Should professionals fear the rise of AI?
We’ve all heard the scare stories -- it’s only a matter of time before artificial intelligence will destroy millions of professionals’ livelihoods. Given the media frenzy accompanying the rapid advancements of artificial intelligence (AI), it’s not surprising that many people hold such a view. And while there is some truth to these dystopian predictions, they’re not as apocalyptic as they’re often made out to be.
Let’s start with some concrete research to shed a light on what professionals can expect in the coming months and years. In 2018, the World Economic Forum released a report suggesting that 75 million jobs may be displaced globally by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines in the next five years. It goes on to say that, at the same time, 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to this division. This insinuates that we could see the creation of 58 million new jobs in just half a decade. What it also suggests is that, perhaps we’re asking the wrong questions. Instead of worrying about robots taking over our jobs, we should instead be considering how AI might reshape the workforce -- and how we can adapt.
Why is AI invaluable for businesses?
AI has arguably been the single biggest technological catalyst of increased productivity and efficiency in the workplace. This is largely thanks to its unparalleled ability to complete routine tasks at a much higher speed, and with more accuracy, that its human equivalents.
The ability to assess huge swathes of data, and garner important insights from this information, lends AI solutions to perform mundane tasks that would otherwise waste valuable business resources. Working in tandem, humans and machines can offer much more value.
Let’s take the legal industry as a case in point -- a sector that is known for its huge reliance on data. Legal firms today are employing algorithms to help simplify (and speed up) their legal research. Indeed, large online resources like LexisNexis are constantly improving their search algorithms to help lawyers find the most relevant material pertaining to their case. Some AI tools can even help lawyers form a case strategy based on previous outcomes in similar cases; they do so by indicating what arguments could be put forward based on the details of a case, and the likelihood of its success.
What does this mean for legal professionals? It means that they can spend their time on more high-level, creative and fulfilling responsibilities rather than squandering their precious time on data management.
This is a common trend across sectors; AI augments human performance to help professionals be more efficient, productive, and ultimately divert their energy to more rewarding tasks.
The AI job revolution
That said, we must acknowledge that jobs that almost exclusively comprise of managing data are at risk of being automated: AI will undeniably displace many existing jobs in the near future, while fundamentally changing the nature of others.
However, this will open up a host of new opportunities for people to learn new skills and explore other disciples. Indeed, the advancement of AI means that professionals can evolve their skill sets to ensure a smooth and powerful collaboration between humans and machines.
Over the coming years, demand for digital and data skills will increase at a rapid rate. The aforementioned World Economic Forum report suggests that Data Analysts, Software Developers, and Social Media Specialists are just some examples of new disciplines that the next generation of professionals can look forward to joining.
What about the people who aren’t destined for a job in STEM? After all, not everyone will become programmers or engineers.
The rise of AI doesn’t necessarily obviate the need for human ‘soft’ skills – indeed, these are growing in demand, too. No matter how far AI advances over the next few years, there are certain human skills that machines simply cannot replace; for example, human communication is vital to building lasting business relationships. That’s why the same report suggests that we will begin to see opportunities growing in roles that require more distinctively ‘human’ skills, such as Customer Service Workers, Human Resources Specialists, and Innovation Managers.
Exciting developments lie on the horizon, including the creation of new jobs and new careers. Over the months and years ahead, we are likely to see professionals and businesses alike realize the benefits that AI and automation can provide, and take advantage of all the opportunities it brings; whether that is reducing costs, improving quality, or acquiring new skills.
Nikolas Kairinos is the chief executive officer and founder of Fountech.ai, a company specializing in the development and delivery of artificial intelligence solutions for businesses and organizations.