6 Iconic Jobs That Are Going Away Forever

#3. Optometrists

The Job:

That's right: The machines are threatening to take away even the non-sexy occupations.

But sexy or not, a trip to the eye doctor was a big part of growing up for a lot of us. It's when we got a prescription for a pair of glasses and tried to select the least nerdy-looking frame to minimize the amount of shit beaten out of us when we wore them to school. It's one of those childhood rites of passage that we spend so much time obsessing over until the day we grow up and realize that in the working world, nobody gives a damn if you're wearing glasses or not unless you're a superhero in disguise.

Feathered hair and a leather jacket are also part of the disguise.

The Replacement:

Those of you with glasses or contacts, think about the last time you went to the optometrist. What exactly did he or she actually do? They have a bunch of machines where an assistant checks you for cataracts or whatever, then the actual eye doctor has you look into a machine and you tell him whether or not you can see with various lenses. Then he writes down a number and they either feed it into a machine that spits out some lenses, or a lady at the counter grabs some contacts off the shelf. We're not looking to insult the eye doctors of the world but come on. These aren't exactly House-style medical mysteries here.

It doesn't take a million-dollar robot to do the job, either. Consider the smart phone app called NETRA, which stands for Near-Eye Tool for Refractive Assessment. It aims to replace your local optometrist with a plastic lens phone attachment. The device is quite similar to the normal optometrist tool, except that it lets the user adjust the focus of the image on his own without the need of a Ph.D.-laden middleman.

Multitasking: getting an eye exam and mono.

After you stare into the lens for a few minutes, your prescription will be read out for you. Then you just take the prescription to your nearest vision center and get your glasses made while your optometrist sits around flipping through magazines.

Or, don't get off the sofa at all. Stare into your phone for a few minutes while Baywatch Nights is on a commercial break, get your prescription and place an order with an online eyeglass store, then wait a day for your glasses to arrive in the mail. It takes only slightly less effort to order a pizza, or more effort if you have a really difficult time deciding what kind of pizza to order.

Hi, Papa Johns? My iPhone says I like gross pizza.

#2. Housekeepers/Maids/Butlers

The Job:

Maids are awesome. If you pay them, they will clean your house top to bottom no matter how far along its stage of decay may be. Sometimes they're the wacky live-in type who offer sage advice, like Alice on The Brady Bunch or Tony Danza in Who's the Boss?, in which case their value is twofold. Sometimes they're the fatherly, secret identity-protecting type like Alfred Pennyworth. And sometimes they're the sexy French maid, an idea that is so ingrained in our consciousness that if you're a woman and you dress as one this Halloween, everyone will immediately assume you're looking to get laid.

You're going to want to make that a double knot.

The Replacement:

Marhu-Z is a Korean device that has two arms, six fingers, and two horrifying eyes, and looks vaguely like Johnny-5 and Rosie from The Jetsons ran into each other really fast.

I have no speakers but I must scream.

Marhu-Z can detect when jobs need to be done. For example, it can tell when your laundry needs to be done, when the dishes need to be cleaned, and whether or not your blood stained sheets need burning. It can cook food in the microwave and set it on the table, and pick up all the random crap you leave around the house and put it away.

Marhu-Z isn't being developed for commercial use at the moment, and in fact it's developers envision it performing slightly more important tasks than vacuuming Cheetos out of your carpet, such as operating machinery on the moon. It offers no wisdom and has no sexy features of any kind, which honestly is the only useful thing about a French maid.

Sure she's attractive, but she's not getting any work done, is she?

Meanwhile, similar devices are being developed in Japan, and the only thing between us and having the Jetsons maid is getting the costs down.

#1. Garbage Men

The Job:

Garbage men are another symbol of blue collar America, performing an indispensable duty and receiving little to no respect for it. Every week we take our garbage can out to the curb and leave it overnight and the next morning everything inside it is gone, sort of like when you leave cookies and milk out for Santa. The day to day life of everyone in the country literally could not function without garbage men.

Drown in your own filth!

The name of the garbage man is also frequently invoked by parents attempting to correct the course of a kid failing his math class, as in, "If you don't do well in school, you're going to end up being a garbage man." So really, the profession is more commonly used as a threat than as something to aspire to.

The Replacement:

DustCart, a mobile garbage collecting robot, has recently been developed in Europe and undergone an extended test run in a small Italian village. Basically, the robot is assigned to a certain number of households that can call on it at any time, and it comes zooming up so you can cram all your bullshit inside of it to be hauled away.

The technology is still in its infancy, and the current model could never survive in a city environment (presumably because it's just too tempting for people to climb on and ride it around). But the consequences could be amazing if (when) systems like this become common.

Imagine a robotic garbage collector you call at your convenience, as many times as you want and even several times a day. Flesh-and-blood garbage men will be about as commonplace as professional witch hunters, and the "you'll grow up to be a garbage man" threat will just be baffling and nonsensical, unless your child is a cyborg.

For more jobs that we still have but wish were gone, check out 6 Dream Jobs That Would Actually Suck. Or learn about some positions you should be glad are gone, in The 6 Worst Jobs Ever (Were Done by Children).

And stop by Linkstorm to see which columnist was a stripper firefighter before he started working for Cracked.

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