SPECIAL REPORT: The Robot Job Invasion (pt.1)

Despite the fact that Wired Magazine predicted it, and has a historical forecasting average even Miss Cleo would be ashamed of, The Robot Job Invasion is real. What jobs are at risk? ALL OF THEM, except maybe her’s.

In Part One of our series, The Pessimist examines three jobs in immediate peril, and offers potential defensive maneuvers you can take if your job is in danger. Which it so totally is.

A PETMAN Robot Soldier, on order for the French Army, practices surrendering

The Robot: Petman (and other military droids)

Immediate jobs at risk: Human soldiers

Secondary jobs at risk: Policemen, Prison Guards

Primary function: Ostensibly, Petman was created to help test military uniforms, and perform useful functions under toxic environmental conditions such as environments rendered inhospitable by chemical warfare or nuclear hazard.  But let’s be honest. This robot doesn’t resemble a Terminator 800 by accident. It can and WILL get weaponized, because hey, weapons!

Known strengths: Does push-ups, scary red light, struts like a BOSS.

Known weakness: Cheesy-ass name, currently requires extensive wiring.

What to do if your job is at risk: If the Prophet Dennis De Young can be trusted, and I think we all can agree his predictions in “Kilroy Was Here” have proven scarily accurate, the Petman Robot, like the prison-guard Robotosmay be vulnerable to logic-errors, insults like, “You’re mother was a Toyota!”, and possibly, a swift kick-to-the-groin. If so, your best defense may be Kilroy’s. Disable the robot by kneeing his CyberNuts, don his robotic garb, and pretend you ARE a Petman. Then proceed to ROCK OUT, and pray you don’t get sent in to the next Fukushima.


Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Robot: Roomba (and other household cleaning bots)

Immediate jobs at risk: Cleaning ladies

Secondary jobs at risk: Lou “Hiccups” Scholtz, Despair’s loyal, much-loved, wacky janitor [Already replaced. "Mourn ya 'til I join ya, bud." -Ed.]

Primary function: “The robot that started the cleaning revolution!”  The now 10-year old Roomba is a $400-$700 sleeping and vacuuming supermachine. Quiet, dependable, and able to recharge itself, it has already become a welcome addition to thousands of homes and has, by iRobot’s account, managed to clean more than 1 million tons of dirt.  Little mentioned, however, is the inevitable fact that cleaning jobs ARE being eliminated, and by some estimates we just made up, they number in the hundreds-of-thousands.  And as future models are introduced with additional functions, the job losses will mount to the millions.

Known strengths: Goes under chairs and tables, doubles as infant mobility device.

Known weakness: Stairs, thick rugs, Houstonian infants.

What to do if your job is at risk: Don’t be fooled by the endearingly petite and inoffensive device.  If you’re in the home or office cleaning industry, it’s time to start picking up a new trade that robots can’t immediately do.  You might assume that longstanding service and the natural human friendships that development between those who clean and the slobs they work for might protect you from obsolescence, but DON’T! The danger of the Roomba is that people become emotionally-attached to them, too!  And, when weighing a one-time cost of $500 against an annual expense in the thousands, dirty slobs are going to vote with their wallets and replace you.  Your best defense against such an eventuality is to use your current unfettered access to a household to find incriminating evidence against the homeowner. And when the inevitable moment arrives that your employer says, “I think we need to have a talk…”, you can reply, with an earnestness that the Roomba will never be able to replicate, “Is this about that giant BRICK of marijuana you keep hidden under the bed?  Because I promise, I’ll never tell anyone as long as I work here.”

If you’re a paid test-audience member for the latest Bravo series, you job may be at risk.

The Robot: Vomiting Larry (and other medical research bots)

Immediate jobs at risk: Paid medical research subjects

Secondary jobs at risk: Fraternity heads, test audiences for the latest Bravo reality series

Primary function: Pharmaceutical companies and medical research firms employ millions of volunteer subjects annually. The pay is good, and usually any side-effects are minor. But occasionally, permanent damage is done to the subject.  Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez famously was a paid test subject, and used the proceeds to create his only real masterpiece. Now he makes films like “Shark Boy and Lava Girl“. Don’t tell me there’s no connection.

Vomiting Larry is helping researchers better understand Norovirus, which sickens up to 21 million Americans a year. It causes projectile-vomiting and explosive diarrhea, which, for some reason, researchers would prefer to simulate rather than witness firsthand.

Known strengths: PROJECTILE VOMITING, as if it isn’t obvious!

Known weakness: Mobility, unless you count the vomiting.

What to do if your job is at risk: It may seem as if THESE jobs will never entirely go away, but the honest truth is, the trend in medical research is moving away from human subjects entirely, which means these high-paying, potentially dangerous jobs may be increasingly hard to get it.

Just kidding!  Actually, the great news is, these jobs are RECESSION-AND-ROBOT-PROOF. Really! So if and when your industry of employment is eliminated, you can always sign-up to be a human guinea pig and test the latest cholesterol-lowering drug or rheumatoid arthritis creme. (At least until the Clone Job Invasion starts.)

NEXT UP: In Part Two of our series on the Robot Job Invasion, we’ll examine three additional jobs at risk.

(below, the Motivation Demotivator® from

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