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Could Your IQ and Interests Save You From a Robot Takeover?

Could Your IQ and Interests Save You From a Robot Takeover?
Credit: William Bradberry/Shutterstock

Worried about robots taking over your job? Your personality traits, interests and IQ could help you from being replaced by artificial intelligence, new research finds.

A study recently published in the European Journal of Personality discovered that employees who are more intelligent and who showed an interest in the arts and sciences during high school are less likely to lose their jobs to automation.

Rodica Damian, the study's lead author and an assistant professor at the University of Houston, said robots don't perform as well as humans with complex social interactions.

"Humans also outperform machines when it comes to tasks that require creativity and a high degree of complexity that is not routine," Damian said in a statement. "As soon as you require flexibility, the human does better."

For the study, researchers examined a data set of 346,660 Americans over the age of 50 from the American Institutes for Research. The data looked at personality traits and vocational interests in adolescence, along with intelligence and socioeconomic status. [Artificial intelligence is coming to your workplace. Here's how it will transform your business.]

The study's authors found that every 15-point increase in IQ predicted a 7 percent drop in the probability of one's job being computerized. If extrapolated across the entire U.S. population, that translates into the equivalent of saving 10.19 million people from losing their jobs to automation.

In addition, they found that liking scientific activities could save nearly 3 million people from losing their jobs to robots.

"We found that regardless of social background, people with higher levels of intelligence, higher levels of maturity and extraversion, higher interests in arts and sciences ... tended to select (or be selected) into less computerizable jobs 11 and 50 years later," the study's authors wrote.

Damian said the findings suggest that the traditional education system might not be prepared to address the changes in the labor market.

"Perhaps we should consider training personality characteristics that will help prepare people for future jobs," she said.

Damian suggests that the education system could put more emphasis on increasing some personality traits, like improving social interactions and becoming more industrious. Additionally, it could place a greater importance on getting students to take an interest in activities related to the arts and sciences.

"By preparing [for automation], at least more people will have a fighting chance," she said.

The study was co-authored by Marion Spengler of the University of Tuebingen in Germany and Brent Roberts of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.