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Will doctors and lawyers be replaced by robots?

© October 2015 Anthony Lawrence

The link below advances the idea that doctors and lawyers may lose their jobs to AI before many other professions.

Doctors and lawyers are much easier to automate than street sweepers. In fact, one of the big successes of machine learning is that you can take a simple algorithm, give it a database of patient records and it learns to diagnose diabetes or breast cancer better than people who have spent years in Med school.

At first that shocked me. After all, don't the words "brilliant" and "doctor" juxtapose often? How many times have you heard "brain surgery" used as an example of intelligence? To a lesser extent, lawyers - at least the highly succesful ones - get similar treatment.

Yet isn't surgery just dexterity combined with knowledge? Isn't medical diagnosis mostly a matter of having a prodigious memory? The same could be said for legal work.

We are already starting to see some of that in both fields. Paralegals are being replaced by computers and computer surgery is already becoming common. It's happening.

However, I think that neglects the political component. The minimum wage worker who loses their job to AI has little political power. Doctors and lawyers are quite a different class. I am quite certain that neither will allow their livelihoods to be taken over by AI. They'll fight politically by enacting legislation that ensures their jobs - they aren't going to end up unemployed.

Your thoughts?

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