Is the future threat of automation to the professions real?

The 2018 National Employment Solutions Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads, NSW over the 8th – 9th October.

The conference provides the opportunity to be involved through presenting, learning, engaging, networking and collaborating with other professionals within the employment sector.

Joining us at the conference is Dr J Michael Innes, Professor at the Australian College of Applied Psychology who will present on ‘Is the future threat of automation to the professions real? The helping professions as case studies’.

J Michael Innes


The automation of work has been a normal process over millennia, changing work practices both to alleviate stress and strain on the individual worker and also to affect the employability of those individuals, changing the patterns of jobs and their availability in major ways.

The emergence of robotics has been seen to extend the threats to future employment across ever wider sections of the community, but there has been, until recently, a belief that the professions, with a requirement for essential intellectual and emotional skills, are immune from such threats. The emergence of artificial intelligence, and in particular machine learning, has, however, begun to be seen as a looming threat to many professions.

Law and accountancy have already been affected and there is a realisation that the simulation of processes which underlie human performance, and not the exact replacement of those processes, may mean that large areas of the professions may be affected in the near future. This paper examines the availability of automated processes to replace the processes of assessment, intervention, evaluation and decision making which are undertaken by members of the helping professions, including psychologists, counsellors and other allied health professionals, with implications for future employment in those fields.

The analysis extends to a critical examination of the need for intuition and empathy while working as a helping professional. The training of future professionals in the near term and for the education of the community to understand those implications are considered. The substitution of robots can be considered as potentially providing, in many cases, better service to the community than that provided by humans. The coming threat of the robot psychologist is real.


Professor Michael Innes is a social psychologist with experience of research and teaching in six universities and higher education institutions in three continents. He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and also four societies in the field of psychology.

His work has spanned areas of team performance, communication and persuasion and the influence of social structures on the health of the individual. His current work examines the imminent threats posed by artificial intelligence on the so-called “soft skills’ of professionals which have been previously thought immune from the encroachment of automated processes.

For more information on the 2018 National Employment Solutions Conference and to secure your spot, please visit