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11 jobs the internet is destroying

Travel Agents One of the most visible casualties of the internet age is travel agents. Even a few decades ago, if you wanted to fly somewhere you had to call up an office and talk to somebody whose entire job was hooking that up. Booking your own airline tickets, hotel rooms, et cetera was outside the grasp of the average American. Needless to say, the creation of travel sites like Orbitz and Travelocity changed all that. In the 1990s there were over 34,000 active travel agents in the United States, and that number has dropped by 20,000 since. There are still a few in business handling luxury trips and helping out confused old people, but the industry doesn't have much time left.

Film Developers

Film Developers This is one profession that's pretty much extinct in the 21st century, which is a shame. In olden times, if you wanted to take a picture, you had to buy film, carefully load it into your camera, and then finish an entire roll before taking it to a specialty shop to get developed. Now that digital photography is the norm, none of that is even necessary. Your cellular phone can hold thousands of snaps, you can beam them across the world with a tap of a finger, and if you do want prints plenty of online services like PostalPix will mail them to your door. The stand-alone One Hour Photo kiosks that used to dot shopping mall parking lots are becoming a relic of an America gone forever.

Video Store Clerks

Video Store Clerks Retail in general has seen better days, as Amazon slowly colonizes every single purchase made on Earth, but the demise of the video store is notable. Blockbuster has already fallen to the juggernaut of Netflix, and many local mom & pop video shops are barely holding on. The one thing that gives them a leg up is typically a staff that's well-versed in cinema history and happy to give recommendations. Pretty soon, they won't even be good for that - Valossa Labs, a group at a Finnish university, just unveiled a natural language search tool called Whatismymovie that lets you ask questions like "What's a sad movie with aliens in it?" and get a reasonable answer.


Salesmen Many of the jobs on this list are fairly specific industries, but there are some whole fields that the internet is slowly destroying. Take sales - research firm Forrester released a study that claims that over a million sales jobs across all industries will be lost by 2020 because of the rise of online shopping. For most products, the "human touch" is no longer necessary. People can get all the information they want online, and reviews posted by other shoppers let them compare features without a gloss of sales patter on top. Even supermarket checkers are getting replaced by machines, so it's not surprising that salespeople are on the way out.


Mapmakers The internet makes it easy to never leave your house, but it also makes it easy to get just about anywhere. The rise of Google Maps, knitting together insanely detailed road information with real-time traffic, street view photographs, and more, has rapidly changed how people travel. It's also made an entire occupation obsolete. Maps used to be drawn by hand, by trained cartographers who updated them every year as cities changed and grew. Digital files are significantly easier to revise than hand-drawn maps, and the art of mapmaking is dying out. While companies like Rand McNally still release yearly road atlas updates, they've also branched out into GPS software.


Librarians In previous generations, librarians were the guardians of the world's knowledge. They mastered the Dewey Decimal system and could point you to anything you needed to know. But now that we live in a world where the entire corpus of human information is a few keystrokes away, how valuable are libraries, really? Usage has been dropping year after year, and most libraries now have electronic cataloging systems that track books. The actual library science you get from a degree is pretty much outdated. We'd guess that in another generation everybody will be issued a Kindle at birth and that'll just be it when it comes to reading.

Loan Officer

Loan Officer It used to be that deciding whether to issue a loan to somebody was a matter of gut instinct more than anything else. But the data-driven economy has taken much of the personal element out of loansharking. Instead of capital being controlled by huge banks, now you can get a loan from a variety of different sources, and your suitability is determined by your existing financial data. Services like Fundbox let freelancers and small businesses get advances on future income, and peer-to-peer lending through services like Prosper connects individuals with cash to people who need it and lets them work rates out themselves.

Record Store Clerks

Record Store Clerks This might not be a bad thing, depending on how snobby your local music hipsters are. It's a fact that physical media sales are dwindling in the Spotify / Tidal / Pandora age. The new generation has no attachment to a little spinning disc that has their tunes on it, and stockpiling CDs doesn't really work with the millennial lifestyle. You can partly blame the industry for their slow adaptation to the times, of course. Whither the classic record store clerk, with their encyclopedic knowledge of rare grooves? Replaced by the Discover Weekly algorithm, serving up songs you might maybe like based on demographic information.

Mail Carriers

Mail Carriers The U.S. Postal Service is a tremendous problem that may have no solution. It loses money year after year even as stamp prices rise, and the financial outlay for retirement pensions alone is staggering. People send less and less physical mail these days, and there are other options for parcel delivery at often cheaper prices. The advent of email has drastically reduced the volume that the USPS carries, and their workforce is shrinking. It used to be a mail carrier was a cushy government job that you could depend on for life, but that may no longer be the case.


Lawyers It's highly doubtful that lawyers will die off completely anytime soon - America's legal system is complex and ridiculous enough that even the smartest artificial intelligence has a problem with it. But software solutions are already making a dent in billings. One of the most notable is Ross, an artificial intelligence devised by IBM using their Watson technology to search through judge's decisions and evaluate their relevance to current cases. Law firm Baker & Hostetler has already "hired" Ross to replace some junior-level research work. A similar project in the UK has helped people get out of a combined 160,000 parking tickets.


Reporters This one is tough to write, because the institution of journalism is key to a free society. Without a fair press keeping tabs on people in power, they can do pretty much anything they want. Unfortunately, the newspaper industry is dying, and with it the job of "reporter" as we know it. With the ability for any person, whether they have a journalism degree or not, to share their information online, we now don't turn to authoritative sources for breaking news. All of humanity has sort of become unpaid reporters for each other on Twitter, Facebook, et cetera, and if people are doing it for free there's no incentive to pay trained professionals to do it better.

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