10 Ways Robots Could Replace Humans

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by: Robert Lamb
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Photo courtesy Rob Cockerham A robotic sign spinner in action.

Just consider the sign spinners, gentle reader. You may have never walked in their shoes, but you know their profession well. These are the men and women who bravely stand by the roadside and spin signs promoting local businesses. Sometimes they even climb into sweat-soaked mascot costumes for the express purpose of grabbing your attention just long enough to relay the advertisement.

There was a time when such an occupation would seem impervious to mechanization. Really, why would we bother? Strip the job down to its basics and you have a task that requires next to nothing in terms of skill and expense. At best, sign spinning is human performance art which, naturally, requires an actual human.

But then blogger Rob Cockerham of Sacramento, Calif., noticed the soulless automaton you see to your right. Yes, that's a mannequin equipped with a rotary mechanism -- a robotic sign spinner known as a "Wavemaster."

Is the technological singularity upon us? Is the end truly nigh? No and no. But the Wavemaster does serve as a reminder that we're not above throwing a robot at any task on the planet. From surgeons to lovers, here's a list of 10 occupations that may eventually fall to the relentless rise of the machines.

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