How Do I Future Proof Myself From The Age Of AI?
“Artificial Intelligence has been brain-dead since the 1970s.” When Marvin Minsky, co-founder of the renowned MIT Artificial Intelligence library, made this remark he was referring to the fact that researchers traditionally focus on the individual components of machine intelligence, rather than embrace the artistic and indeed creative whole.
Artificial Intelligence ("AI") has progressed a long way in the last decade, but you might still be justified in asking at precisely what point we have reached. AI’s short history has so far given us such novelties as world champion-beating chess computers, but there is much more hidden behind the scenes.
Mainly driven by developers’ artistic imaginations, innumerable creative applications have been designed for AI machines. Prediction software programmes can aid us in medicine, environmental monitoring and weather warnings. It can also be used to streamline our transportation systems, smooth our economy and safeguard our nation. The road ahead for AI is far more like a runway. Expect AI to blast off into the realms of science fiction within the next five years.
For example, if you feel your CEO is being paid too much you need not worry for much longer. An artificial company tool will one day replace him or her. That’s right. Meet your new creatively inspired AI CEO, a tenth of the cost and demanding no bonuses, stock options or luxury perks. Management will be redefined in the age of artificial intelligence, with judgment decision-making at its core. This offers humans a huge advantage over the machines, and highlights the importance of management with social intelligence in the future.
AI will be used creatively in workplaces and the home, and even commuting between the two. Future flying vehicles will be net-centrically connected to all other traffic, preventing collisions and catastrophic accidents. Your vehicle will drive itself, making it safe to read your tablet, apply fashion lipstick or make a telephone call while you are travelling.
This is the future of artificial intelligence, and it’s coming soon. Speeding tickets will be despatched promptly, and e-government will be able to enforce payment. There will be no pleading innocence to parking tickets - AI will see all with real-time colourful images painting the true picture of your deeds.
Inconceivable years ago, AI is starting to rapidly replace many jobs normally performed by men and women. Here are just two creative fields AI threatens to take over.
Writers should be aware that there are currently AI applications that can create online blogs and article. Every day, their writing quality incrementally improves. At present, it’s easy to distinguish between whether a post was written by AI or a human writer. However, there are also hybrid AI models which can take a human’s three or four articles on a chosen subject and spin them out into 50. In this manner, the output is less obviously AI-derived. They might require some minor editing, but clearly the age when AI creates novels, screenplays and all web news articles will soon be upon us.
AI is already being exploited by the media news outlets. A human writer inputs the who, what, why, where and how of a news event, and the laptop spits out a full story in minutes. A few more minutes of minor editing and the story’s ready to publish online.
Not only does AI reduce the need for staff writers, the delivery of news globally is accelerated considerably.
AI computer systems will transform the way we work and live. We are genuinely at a crossroads, and need to be aware of the implications. But it’s not all bad news, and certainly not a reason to be consumed with fear!
There will still be many jobs which robots will not be able to do, or at least not until AI technology has become very advanced. First, it's important to remember that what we are really talking about here are tasks being taken over by robots, not so much the jobs themselves. Currently, robots can be programmed to perform a series of specific, repetitive tasks which make up a process. This process completes upon achievement of a goal, such as making, maintaining or shipping something.
Human jobs change all the time under pressure from societal trends. As many as half the jobs that will be commonplace in 20 years’ time haven’t been invented yet. Indeed, 50% of existing professions will disappear over that same period.
Where humans retain an advantage over AI is through their creative thinking skills. Humans can assess large clumps of data, determine the best solution to a problem, and then communicate it more effectively.
Communication is integral to problem-solving. Through technology, remote teams of workers can collaborate on projects and communicate their ideas. Humans are still better at providing a conceptual framework to a project and bending it to a specific direction.
Humans possess artistic and creative skills. These are a long way off from being programmed into robots. Besides, human-inspired art - art derived from the soul - will always be more sought after.
Humans can also assess a problem in many different ways, and use lateral thinking. They keep an open mind and own a fierce curiosity, which has driven mankind’s development over the centuries.
A robot cannot essentially be held accountable for its actions like a human. If work done by a robot causes a death or financial loss, the company owning the robot will be sued. This inability to shift blame to a human work colleague will make companies think carefully before using robots for certain jobs.
Jobs involving care-giving, building or repair will be difficult to automate. As will any professions which operate within a nuanced client relationship. Here is a list of some of the jobs likely to avoid automation - at least for the foreseeable future:
Many of these roles have already been influenced in part by artificial intelligence, where elements of the role can be refined or accelerated. However, where there are complex skills involving decision-making, human thought processes and decision making the machine still has much learning to adequately compete. Sometimes human error can be eliminated from specific tasks, to allow humans to focus on other complexities. This form of assistive use of technology enhances our abilities, and gives us scope to excel with the intricate skills.
Humans will need to become technological polymaths, much like Leonardo DaVinci, in order to future-proof themselves from AI. Throughout their working lives, they will need to pick up new skills and become multi-faceted in the tasks they can perform. Training may be short and the skills acquired later even discarded. Increasingly, new projects will need skills that never existed before market forces demanded them. The human workforce will contain more freelance specialists who are adaptable in the services they can provide. Clearly, this business trend has already starting to take form with the explosion of social media, making it easy for entrepreneurs to fly solo.
As long as humans can retrain and adapt themselves faster than robots, communicate well and use creative thinking, the future will never be bleak. There will always be jobs for humans to do in some form. We are masters of our destiny and ideally should be creating artificial intelligence to assist and enhance our natural abilities, rather than pushing the machine world into an arena of competition. The bonus for humanity is that these future jobs may be more fun, artistic and creative, offering more rewarding careers. It is exhilarating to imagine that creativity may save the day. Equally, our future jobs may just allow us more time to simply be!
1. The Conversation - Job Survival in the Age of Robots and Intelligent Machines by David Tuffley
2. QuantumRun - Jobs That Will Survive Automation: Future of Work by David Tal 16th Dec 2015
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