Digital Disruption: 5 jobs that may soon become Obsolete

Once upon a time, there lived lamplighters, telephone switchboard operators, and human computers. All of a sudden (over many years) advances in technology happened, the digital age had arrived – causing the need for these roles to disappear, and the people behind them forced to retrain. Join us as we look at 5 jobs that may one day no longer exist.

1. Farmers
The role of a farmer has traditionally included the work of planting crops, harvesting, weeding, pest control, measuring land, and tending to animals. Today, almost every aspect of the job can be done either semi-autonomously or autonomously by machines. Cultivators survey land dimensions using satellite images, pesticides & fertilisers are administered using drones, whilst harvesting and weeding can be done by self-driving farm equipment. In countries where human labour is expensive farms will most likely be managed by a small number of highly trained people who operate machinery from the comfort of their offices. For livestock, and cattle specifically,  automatic milking systems are already in use and becoming increasingly popular.

Companies like Techno Farm in Kyoto, Japan are redefining the way farming has been traditionally done with indoor automated vertical farms, with minimal cost, space and human input.

2. Bank tellers
Unless you’re doing something significant like buying a house, there is now almost nothing that can’t be done online, or with your smartphone. Just as ATM’s have replaced the first wave of banking jobs, it is likely that many of the remaining human based teller jobs will be taken over by digital interfaces with integrated AI. Machines will be able to approve bank loans, and even open accounts, faster and cheaper than their human counterparts with less chance of errors or fraud.

3. Travel agents

When last did you visit a travel agent? Unless you’re working for a large company, or have clients with very specific travel requirements, gone are the days when the travel agent could find you a great deal on a flight, an exclusive hotel offer, then send you off equipped with maps and brochures. The launch of websites like Skyscanner,, and Airbnb, means that for almost no cost at all you can become your own travel agent, and all from the comfort of your living room.

4. Media: Printers, Publishers and Music Salespeople
Though many may prefer printed books and news, one of the hallmarks of this digital age is that is that almost all literature and media is available electronically. Information has become free. The emergence of platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have all been the catalyst for the monumental pace at which we consume information and the decline of traditional media. Specifically, the Amazon subscription model, has led to a decline in the amount of people willing to pay for books, newspapers or CD’s. This, as well as free services like Craigslist in America have also had a significant effect on revenue raised from advertising.

5. Manufacturing/ Factory Workers
Just like in the industrial revolution, the digital age again has found ways to make these jobs more efficient. Especially in the case of simple or repetitive jobs, which can simply be engineered & programmed for robotic execution. For example back in 2016 Foxconn, who famously manufactures for Apple and Samsung amongst others, announced that they were replacing 60,000 of their employees with robots . Naturally, other companies such as Changying Precision Technology, have since followed suit and have reported significant benefits from doing so.

Looking Ahead
There’s no question that automation is creeping into almost every industry, and in ways we could never previously have imagined. While some remain fearful about what this means for them, one of the key strengths that humans have always had is our ability to evolve, to adapt to change. The days when a person trained for a job and stuck to it for life are over. For today’s generation of students, workers, and job seekers developing a broad range of skills and competencies is the best way to future-proof for the changes still to come.