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Quora Column

The future of work: Drones vs mankind

(Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

(Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

Ever wonder what jobs will be out there 100 years from now?

With technology and innovation changing at such a rapid clip, the future is hard to fathom, particularly when even little things, like our mobile phones and tablets, become outdated in what seems to be the blink of an eye.

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s precisely this innovation driving change in all of our careers. Traditional newspapers and magazines no longer have a standalone presence without an accompanying web site and healthcare wouldn’t be what it is today without technologies such as MRIs that can scan the inner most workings of our brain.

Will humans still have jobs or will we be replaced by robots? We turned to question-and-answer-site Quora for insight on what the careers of the future will be. Here’s what some respondents said about what jobs will stay and which will become obsolete.

It’s not an exact science

There’s no future for routine jobs, wrote Abhisek Bhowmik. “Software is eating the world. Either you write software, be a scientist or join entertainment (which includes sports, movies, personal services etc.).”

Drones will be a very real part of our future, wrote Horia Tudosie: “So, there will be a lot of drone-related jobs: Drone mechanic, drone electrician, drone programmer, drone driver, drone police, drone inspector.”

Added Iain Davidson: “One day almost everything will be done by machines including building and designing machines.”

The human touch

Drones, however, can’t replace jobs calling for a human touch. “The career of the future will be doing things machines can't do, which only leaves….journalism, social work, the arts, sport and politics,” Davidson said.

Handmade goods will be in high demand, according to Moises Braun Wollenstein. “For the people that can afford anything, stuff made with lots of labour will be the ultimate luxury,” he said, pointing to homemade cooking and raising livestock in traditional ways.

More time for leisure

As careers become more automated, there is an upside. People will gain more free time to travel and explore the world, religion and the arts, Wollenstein continued, opening up jobs in leisure industries to meet that demand.

Some of the opportunities he sees:

  • Space and Earth exploration:  “As less manpower is needed to produce goods we will have more time to get in trouble. Space exploration comes to mind, but I believe that in the next hundred years, the artic and the oceans will be completely mapped and explored.”
  • Tourism: “More spare time means more time for vacations. Cheaper and faster transportation and telecommunications will allow people to travel all over the world more days of each year.”
  • Education and tutoring: “Ballet, math, history, tennis and cooking, among others. With spare time and basic needs covered. People will want to become experts in all sorts of skills many of the fields will not have an obvious economic value for the students.”
  • Sales and Marketing: “Manufacturing will become cheaper, less labour will be needed and energy and raw materials are likely to become cheaper moving the supply curve to the right. This will make marketing and sales increasingly important.”
  • Entertainment: “Singing, dancing, massages, prostitution, movies and videogames. Who wants to see a machine dancing ballet?”

Healthy living

With people living longer and populations aging, we will always need healthcare and agriculture to feed that world, said Tim Menkveld. “Doctors will still be a job in the future,” he said. “We will always have to eat! So farmers will be there in 100 years.”

However, as scientists make advances on all fronts, including healthcare and agriculture, Menkveld questioned all future careers. “What about machines creating machines?” he pondered. “And even collecting/transporting/mining minerals or whatever to create these machines might be done by machines… How much work will there actually be left for humans?”

What careers to do think will be relevant 100 years from now? Share your thoughts and experiences on BBC Capital's Facebook page or message us on Twitter @BBC_Capital.

Quora respondents are required to use their true names under the site’s Real Names policy. To help ensure legitimacy and quality, Quora asks some individuals, such as doctors and lawyers, to confirm their expertise.

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