Epidemiologists to be replaced by robots, and will need to retrain.

by reestheskin on 20/10/2014

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Well,  this did make me laugh. You cannot think about modern medicine without thinking about the generation of new useful knowledge, and how we can parcel out what knowledge we already possess and package it so that those with fewer experiential skills can use it. The latter is a bit of a mouthful, but I mean breaking tasks down such that they can be accomplished by those with less (expensive) training. So, do you need to be a dermatologist to undertake skin surgery: the answer is clearly no, but the exact answer  depends on exactly what type of surgery. There are parallels in other professions, such as using paralegals instead of lawyers. I cannot remember my sources but I think doctors made up around a  third of the health care workforce a century ago, where now it is 1 in ~14. This trend will continue, and our friendly machines will be looking for work too. Students be warned.

So, I was following up on this theme with some background reading, Race Against the Machine and all that. And I came across a study by Carl Benedikt Frey  and  Michael A. Osborne  with the title The Future of employment : how susceptible are jobs to computerisation? I cannot speak to their methodology, but they have come up with probabilities for how likely various jobs are likely to be replaced by the dreaded machines. What made me smile was that the estimate for ‘Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists’ was p=0.0045, but for Epidemiologist it was 0.2. Chuckle.


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