Is the future threat of automation to the professions real? The helping professions as case studies

John Innes, Ben Morrison

Research output: Other contribution to conferencePresentation onlypeer-review


The automation of work has been a normal process over millennia, changing work practices both to alleviate stress and strain on the individual worker and also to affect the employability of those individuals, changing the patterns of jobs and their availability in major ways. The emergence of robotics has been seen to extend the threats to future employment across ever wider sections of the community, but there has been, until recently, a belief that the professions, with a requirement for essential intellectual and emotional skills, are immune from such threats. The emergence of Artificial Intelligence, and in particular machine learning, has, however, begun to be seen as a looming threat to many professions. Law and accountancy have already been affected and there is a realisation that the simulation of processes which underlie human performance, and not the exact replacement of those processes, may mean that large areas of the professions may be affected in the near future. This paper examines the availability of automated processes to replace the processes of assessment, intervention, evaluation and decision making which are undertaken by members of the helping professions, including psychologists, counsellors and other allied health professionals, with implications for future employment in those fields. The analysis extends to a critical examination of the need for intuition and empathy while working as a helping professional. The training of future professionals in the near term and for the education of the community to understand those implications are considered. The substitution of robots can be considered as potentially providing, in many cases, better service to the community than that provided by humans. The coming threat of the robot psychologist isreal.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 08 Oct 2018
Event2018 National Employment Solutions Conference - Twin Towns Services Club , Tweed Heads, Australia
Duration: 08 Oct 201809 Oct 2018


Conference2018 National Employment Solutions Conference
CityTweed Heads
OtherThe National Employment Solutions Conference will examine challenges, barriers, opportunities, research and trends that relate to innovative employment solutions in both job supply and demand.
With a program of nine Keynote Speakers and over 50 presenters, this annual conference provides the opportunity to be involved through presenting, learning, engaging, networking and collaborating with other professionals within the employment sector and is designed for policy makers, academics, employers, human resource managers, recruitment services, associations, all levels of government and not-for-profit representatives.
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