Artificial Intelligence

What does artificial intelligence (AI) mean for your job right now?

For many, it feels unclear what role artificial intelligence will play in our future. Will it take control of the slow, sluggish tasks that eat into our day? Or will it take over our jobs, making us redundant in the process? It’s a serious question and one that is only right to explore. Should we be afraid of AI? We don’t think so. Here’s why.

Understandably, there is some cultural anxiety around job losses – especially as many of us know little about these technological advances. Words such as “Robotics”, “Machine Learning” (ML) and “Deep Learning” (DP) are being thrown around the media with various degrees of excitement. We wouldn’t blame you for feeling a little left behind when you’ve only just gotten your head around yesterday’s buzz words, such as “Big Data”, “Blockchain”, “Smart Manufacturing”, “3D printing” and “Internet of Things” (IoT). You get the picture. 

First, what is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Amazon, which operates a large majority of its company on machine-learning systems (a subset of AI), interprets it in this way; “the field of computer science dedicated to solving cognitive problems commonly associated with human intelligence, such as learning, problem-solving, and pattern recognition.” 

Which jobs will be replaced by AI?

Businesses most often tap into artificial intelligence with the objective of using human logic as a guide to provide better services or create better products for customers. It’s important to note, that the idea is for machines to be human-like. They aren’t attempting to creat the perfect replica of a human mind. That being said, it’s likely that certain roles or responsibilities, such as ones that require a high level of repetition, with be handled by AI-mechanisms. 

Jobs that are easy to automate have declined the most over the last five years; including jobs such as administrative assistants, customer service representatives, accountants, and electrical/mechanical technicians. It is expected that 42% of all tasks and 62% of data processing and search is expected to be handled by machines and algorithms by 2020 (according to The Future of Jobs 2018). 

At the same time, technology innovation has led to a demand for new and important skillsets. LinkedIn has reported more people are adding AI skills to their CVs, climbing by 190% since 2015, as the industry continues to grow.

Should you be concerned?

AI’s are built to tackle important-but-repetitive work, handling routine tasks that permit humans to concentrate on the important stuff. Tasks that require flexibility, relationship-building, empathy, and consideration of context are far less easy to automate. 

Looking at Amazon once more, they express the impact machine learning systems have had on their company: “Without ML, couldn’t grow it’s business, improve its customer experience and selection, and optimise its logistic speed and quality.” 

So, should you hand in your notice?

Our advice would be to not panic. The pace at which AI-mechanisms will be fully ingrained into the workplace depends largely on society’s willingness to adopt them; many people simply aren’t ready. Jobs that require a large number of repetitive tasks may not be replaced altogether either. For example, the invention of the automated teller machine (ATM) didn’t lead to bank cashiers losing their jobs, but in more of them being employed. Similarly, teachers are unlikely to be replaced by AI-powered learning apps. These jobs will simply experience some aspect of job redesign.

In Jens Anderer’s book, ‘Prediction Machines — The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence’, he explains that “when prediction becomes cheaper, complementary inputs to decision-making like data or human talent and experience such as interpretation, judgment, and action will become more valuable. In this sense, many jobs, as well as whole company structures, are very likely to be redesigned.”

Our advice to you is to keep one finger on the pulse of innovation (even without the “threat” of AI-robots!) You should always endeavour to develop your skill set as well as your understanding of new and emerging innovations. It’s claimed that in the early days of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford was asked about innovation. You may be familiar with his response; if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Perhaps a new type of worker is going to be born out of this. All we can do is observe and adapt accordingly.

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