Optometry least likely to be automated

Online tool ranks which professions are likely to become fully automated in the future, showing optometry to be safe, but dispensing optics may not be so secure


Optometrists may be safe from the rise of the machines, with the profession listed as one of those less likely to be done by a machine in the future. 

A new online tool, from National Public Radio in the US, shows just a 13.7% likelihood of the role of optometrists becoming automated. The data is drawn from research published in 2013 by researchers at the University of Oxford. 

While self-scan checkouts are already commonplace in supermarkets, increasing computerisation is predicted to see more roles being taken over by machines, such as the ongoing project to test self-driving cars on the UK’s streets. 

The push for automation will be driven by increasing digitisation, as well as the emergence of increasingly sophisticated sensors and the rise of the ‘internet of things’ – connectivity between devices. 

Out of a total of 702 occupations, optometry ranked 188th in terms of least likely to be automated. Dispensing optician ranked 391st, with a 71% risk, while ophthalmic laboratory technicians have the highest chance of complete automation, at 97%. 

However, the researchers note that their estimates are rough and highlight that making technological predictions is “notoriously difficult.”

In the meantime, spare a thought for the telemarketers, math technicians and watch repairers, who at 99%, may soon be obsolete...