Will Photographers Be Replaced By Robots?

A new study suggests that some 47% of US jobs are liable to be computerized — where does photography sit in the mix?

VTOL aerial drone
VTOL aerial drone
U.S. Army Photo

The Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology at Oxford University recently released a paper arguing that some 47% of jobs in the USA are at risk to being computerized over the next 20 years. With ongoing advances in computation, processing and engineering technology, the group looked at 700 jobs, and delved into how likely the skills required for each is to be replaced in the near future. So how does photography fit into the mix?

Unsurprisingly, photographers themselves are one of the less threatened position. You can read the whole paper here, and according to their calculations, photographers rank 91/702, with just a 0.021 probability of being replaced (us writers are likewise fairly insulated, with a 0.038 probability). However, there are a large number of industries tied to photography that could see replacing in the near future. The study cites both "Camera and Photographic Equipment Repairers" and "Photographic Process Workers and Processing Machine Operators" as near certainties, with 0.97 and 0.99 respectively. That's an extremely high chance, and in the case of developers, the highest possible chance.

Even more bizarre is the publication's claims that models have a 0.98 probability of being computerized. And a world without models would make for very different photography.