“Artificial intelligence” has been everyone’s favourite buzzword recently and lately we’ve seen an influx of differing viewpoints regarding the future of AI and its impact on the workplace. Opinions across the world are divided and many experts offer some extreme views. A Swiss think-tank has warned that AI robots could force 75 million people out of jobs by 2022. On the other hand, consultancy firm PWC claims that 7.2 million new jobs will be created by 2037 due to AI. But the question is, which party is right and will robots steal your job? Spencer Ogden investigates.
Man vs. Machine
If you’re like us and have watched Hollywood Sci-fi movies where robots are positioned as the antagonist; it’s only natural for you to fear AI. But, is it wise to make these negative assumptions until you know all the facts?
We can’t deny the impact that this groundbreaking technology has already made to our lives in and out of work. In today’s society, AI is used in many ways and has made our lives more productive. From image recognition on your smartphone to voice recognition, where you can ask your Amazon Alexa to give you this week’s weather forecast – AI makes things a little easier for us all.
On a larger scale, many experts within the technology field believe that humans and machines can live harmoniously in a workplace environment. Mimi Spier, vice president of VMware’s internet of things (IoT) business, supports this view.
“We’ve long believed that the AI fear of ‘man vs. machine’ is hyperbole, and that ‘man alongside machine’ is the real opportunity — not a threat to today’s workforce.”
And there are many companies that can demonstrate this, too. Recently, the Harvard Business Review conducted a global study of more than 1,000 companies that have invested in advanced AI systems. Upon implementing this technology, it was discovered that performance improvements resulted when machines were utilised to work alongside employees rather than replace them.
While this may sound great in a work environment, how can AI help speed up our job search? Recruiting is challenging and many businesses find it difficult to keep candidates engaged during the hiring process. Thanks to AI technology, the candidate experience is improving with the help of chatbots. Many candidates are now sent live updates regarding their application, along with detailed notifications of important dates that the applicant needs to be aware of. Additionally, AI is identifying skilled candidates at a much faster rate by using an advanced algorithm.
The Human Touch
Like all technology, AI has its limits.
Robotics and AI algorithms are only as smart as the people that programmed them. And with the demand for new smart devices increasing by the minute, it’s clear why there is a need for specialists who understand this AI at each step of its development life cycle.
Reflecting back on Internet revolution, we saw the introduction of many new exciting jobs – including app developers, social media managers, and software engineers. With this said, it’s logical to think that AI can create even more exciting roles. Companies such as Telsa are creating a positive impact on the jobs market and currently looking for battery algorithms engineers, deep learning scientists, and even offering internships for automation controls engineer positions. While their factories may be heavily automated, Tesla founder, Elon Musk has reiterated that there are a number of jobs within the production line that humans are better placed to perform.
“AI is evolving the tech jobs market for the better,” says Spencer Ogden Technology Team Leader, Rex Rusling.
“In Singapore, we've seen an increase of more than 120% with our technology clients and their staffing needs, largely because companies are now opting to replace traditional software development skills for AI specialist proficiencies.”
Technology companies are not the only entities that are experiencing growth due to AI, confirms Rusling.
“Backed by both private and public sector funding; it is now common for new companies to actively explore AI systems that will help disrupt and improve services in healthcare, transport, finance, and other domains.”
AI is designed to take us away from mundane, repetitive jobs. Jobs that are at risk of automation aren’t surprising and these include customer service clerks, drivers, administrators, help desk staff and data analysts. Arguably, monotonous jobs will be lost – but we will gain jobs where humans will have the opportunity to shine. Professions that embrace creativity and compassion will thrive and it’s fair to say that it will be virtually impossible for AI to replicate this human behaviour.
The next step, is how can we open doors for everyone to enjoy more rewarding and interesting work opportunities?
The Art of Transition
So, how can you increase your chances of surviving in an AI job market? Firstly, it's time to take charge of your career and start preparing yourself so you can move forward into a new technological era.
Developing your creative skills and taking advantage of new learning opportunities will remain key to staying agile in a world dominated by AI.
Adapting on an individual level is not only your responsibility but also our communities. At a grassroots level, schools will need to exercise a degree of accountability with helping children to gain necessary skills that will assist their future development in an AI world.
Additionally, businesses are responsible for the development of their employees and offering skills that will help them move forward with AI technology improvements. On a deeper level, businesses will need to train employees that are directly affected by digital alterations and will need to assist their transition into new roles to avoid the risk of redundancy. This can be seen with corporations such as General Electric, which has established numerous online programs that enable teach machine learning and other specific skills. Several hundred employees have already completed the company’s certification program for data analytics, which has enabled people to assume new roles.
At the end of the day, AI is here to unshackle us from routine jobs and propel us into a new field of work that will encourage us to become more human than machine.