T he swift advancement of Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing the professional landscape. This transformation is further compounded by economic shifts and geopolitical disturbances.
Consequently, leaders such as Elon Musk (Tesla, X) and Jaan Tallinn (investor of Skype, Deep Mind) caution against the potential dangers of unchecked AI progress, advocating for a measured approach to high-end AI development (rather than a complete halt). Here I can somewhat agree. There is no question whether this technology will be developed, but rather how fast, in what direction, and how it will influence our lives.
Innovation has always been a choice, but the argument for fostering a culture of innovation is now more compelling than ever. As we stand on the brink of this technological revolution, understanding its implications is crucial for both current professionals and the workforce of the future. It is not only about ChatGPT.
Reports about AI’s Impact on Job Market
Recent studies have indicated a significant shift in the job market due to the rise of AI. Predictions suggest both the creation of new roles and the obsolescence of certain traditional jobs.
According to the World Economic Forum’s report, the usage of generative AI may affect a significant proportion of total worker tasks (this report does not distinguish between tasks being augmented vs automated). According to this study, the impact of generative AI is most likely to affect higher-wage roles and jobs with greater barriers to entry.
Goldman Sachs predicts generative AI could disrupt 300 million jobs globally, but “disrupt” doesn’t mean “eliminate”. Of the 3.32 billion global workers, it means roughly 10%, but not all jobs are equally susceptible to this disruption.
According to report by McKinsey “The economic potential of generative AI: The next productivity frontier”, for most of the technical capabilities, Large Language Models (LLMs) and other generative technologies will perform at a median level of human performance by the end of this decade. Its performance will compete with the top 25 percent of people completing tasks before 2040, which is 40 years faster than previously anticipated.
From Automation to Augmentation in Varied Industries
In my opinion, the way AI influences our jobs depends on the position and industry (specifically, how frequently companies from a particular sector lead in implementing innovations).
Undoubtedly, simple and repetitive tasks performed on computers are very likely to be automated due to AI. This can optimize costs on a large scale and reduce employment in certain areas. Large Language Models (LLMs) will for sure take a lot of work related to data analysis and synthesis.
For high-wage roles, we can achieve outstanding results thanks to the increased efficiency of employees aided by AI. Since we often face a shortage of resources in this segment, it could help reduce the number of vacancies. The jobs it affects are software engineers, doctors and attorneys. (Regarding software development, as I work in this industry, I predict that the result of AI will be the most visible in creating simple code, rewriting legacy code and optimizing existing code. In other areas AI will be a great companion.)
However, some sectors will remain largely unaffected, such as the repair and property maintenance sectors or the luxury goods sector (I predict that human assistance will become a new form of luxury).
Adapting to AI: the Future Workforce
New occupations will emerge (and actually are emerging), but contrary to the hype, I don’t see a future for AI trainers, as gen AI is a good trainer for itself. The obvious role is that of a Machine Learning Engineer. Additionally, I predict that among the most likely future roles are:
- AI/ML Maintenance Specialist – taking healthcare sector as an example, they would be responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting AI systems, much like IT support for computers, and operate and oversee AI tools (for instance, in medical imaging, diagnostics, and personalized treatment planning).
- AI Integration Specialist – professionals who integrate AI capabilities into existing systems or processes; the role would be a natural evolution of Robotics Process Automation (RPA) Specialist.
- Robotics Coordinator – people who manage and coordinate robots in various settings, from factories to hospitals.
- AI Safety Engineer – we need experts who ensure that AI systems operate safely, especially in critical areas like autonomous vehicles, healthcare, and industrial automation.
Let’s focus for a moment on the broadly understood safety and control measures, which are advocated by the leaders mentioned at the beginning. Here are several more areas to address that potentially create new jobs related to AI:
- examining algorithms for any unintentional biases and ensuring that AI-driven decisions are equitable across diverse populations;
- ensuring that systems handle and process data in compliance with privacy regulations (+maybe in terms of copyright);
- ensuring that research and applications adhere to established ethical guidelines and best practices (here as well we may expect some regulations to be introduced).
For those adaptable to change, AI presents a plethora of opportunities. The evolving landscape will favour individuals who can quickly learn and integrate AI tools into their professional repertoire, turning challenges into advantages.
AI Revolution and Work-life Balance
The integration of AI into our work promises heightened automation and efficiency. For instance, customer service bots can handle queries round the clock (on the other hand, despite the rise of chatbots, 31% of customers still prefer phone communication), while AI-powered data analysis tools can process vast amounts of data in seconds. These are just the tip of the iceberg, and I will delve deeper into such transformative examples in the upcoming posts.
While it’s tempting to believe that AI will free up our time, history suggests otherwise. Major technological shifts, like the advent of social media, have consumed more of our time and attention. With AI, we might find ourselves competing with machines, making the ability to focus an even more vital skill. (I plan to dedicate a lot of space on my blog to the issue of focus, because its deficit is alarming.)
When used wisely, AI has the potential to amplify the value of our work and can help us lead a more balanced life. However, the competitive edge provided by AI today will become tomorrow’s industry standard. The question is what then.
Skills for the AI Era
To thrive in the AI-driven world, it is important to make lifelong learning the new normal. In my opinion, these general skills are crucial:
- A programmer’s logical and problem-solving mindset.
- Enhanced focus and the ability to filter out distractions.
- Nurturing creativity, which, when combined with AI, can bring unprecedented ideas to life.
In terms of technical skills, World Economic Forum’s report claims that “the ability to efficiently use AI tools now exceeds computer programming by humans, networks and cybersecurity skills, general technological literacy skills, and design and user experience by some margin”. Therefore, it is important to stay on the AI wave and treat it as one of the most important hard-skills to develop,
In conclusion, while AI presents challenges, it also offers opportunities. By understanding the potential shifts in the labour market and preparing accordingly, we can ensure a future in which we and AI coexist and complement each other in the workplace. And remember, this is not the first industry revolution we are facing. The music industry, for example, transitioned from vinyl to streaming, leading to shifts in job roles quite naturally.
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