Artificial intelligence (AI) is not the end of human employment but the start of a whole new era.
And we are already in the midst of it.
From your Google search results to dating apps—even the way you shop—uses some variation of AI. In 2019, Oberlo reports that the number of businesses adopting AI has grown by 270% and the pandemic has only served to further accelerate our dependence on AI to cope with the changes in the way we work.
What Is AI?
To quickly define, AI refers to the ability of a digital computer/robot to perform intelligent tasks such as performing tasks or solving problems that require some degree of reasoning like learning from past processes.
AI doesn’t just refer to algorithms that process data quickly but those that have the capacity to change and rewrite themselves in response to the data inputted.
But fear not! Despite the daunting might of AI, it has its disadvantages and pitfalls that prevent it from making humans obsolete in the workforce.
Although AI has immense potential to automate many sectors, the rise of AI will ultimately lead to the creation of more jobs to oversee and develop the AI we adopt in the workforce.
This is because AI programs are only capable of working within their prescribed programming and require the input of massive amounts of data in order to learn and improve its “intelligence”.
That means AI is limited by the availability of the right kind of data and the ethics of privacy and security surrounding the use of such data. Furthermore, data collected by AI carries bias and can reflect the implicit biases of the designers who create and input the data.
If the data is biased, then the results generated by the AI that uses the data will also be biased. Hence, humans are still required to analyse and vet through the work done by AI in order to ensure it is correctly used in the right way.
Ultimately, humans are still required to develop AI and make decisions regarding the rules of these tools, their implementation as well as their maintenance.
Changes in the Workforce
As many more businesses begin to adopt the use of AI, departments that process data will start to become fully automated and no longer require as much human presence to function.
This means there will be less employment for mundane, repetitive work like those required in the professions of accounting, administrative and transportation. Instead, higher-value skills that involve innovation and decision-making will be required when finding a job in today’s workforce.
Human skills like empathy, creativity and emotional intelligence which cannot be replicated by AI will become indispensable for the workplace and the need for data analysis skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics will continue to rise in order to keep AI functioning.
Impact on Employment
What this means for all of us is that upskilling and adaptability is important in order to remain employable in a future accompanied by AI.
A different composition of skills will be needed to meet the needs of the digital age as AI develops. There’s no time to be sitting back on our laurels and thinking of ourselves as experts in our fields—especially for those of us who specialise in administrative or routine work.
We need to pick up new skills in data analysis and the use of new technologies brought about with the advent of AI. Companies also need to focus on equipping employees with retraining and upskilling in order to optimise the human-machine partnership for maximum output in the workplace.
Learning new skills just to stay employable in the future may sound like a pain, especially to those who have developed high levels of previously valuable non-digital skill sets.
However, if we do not strive to improve our capabilities and skills, then the development of AI will only be a stumbling block to us. After all, AI was created in order to benefit humanity as a whole and make it possible for us to pursue even greater things.