If you’re anything like me, job security is extremely important. The chance of having my job removed because of factors I cannot control definitely worries me. However, the reality has become that change is the only constant.
There has been a lot of talk of Artificial Intelligence recently. For those of you that don’t know what this is, Artificial Intelligence is “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.” According to Forbes, robotics are not just replacing blue-collar jobs that have a set pattern and are thus easy to automate. In fact, jobs in marketing, finance, law and even medicine are in some way or another having some kind of help from Artificial Intelligence and robotics.
Here’s a video of Baxter, a robot that can supposedly beat any human in a game of Connect Four.
This is the kind of learning we’re talking about – robots that are able to interpret their surroundings and are able to perform tasks better than humans can. Whether it’s Baxter, Watson on Jeopardy, or even Siri on your iPhone, humans are going to be surrounded by robots who have computing power that goes far beyond what our brains can currently do.
However, given that I am a finance major at Boston College, I wanted to see what I could do to potentially protect myself from this change that is so inevitable. Here’s a short list of things to remember:
AI is New
It seems like these changes are so scary mainly because we’re being inundated with technology that common people may not have foreseen around 10 years ago. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this technology is nascent. It will take time for it to fully develop and actually have a disruptive impact on the sector that you’re currently working in. As humans, we are skeptical to give most (and definitely not all) of our control over to artificial intelligence. On that note, things like artificial intelligence will have a much more potent impact on lower skilled jobs first. Although I outlined some more white collar jobs earlier in this article, it will definitely take more time for robotics to be able to outpace humans as those jobs require some more complex problem solving.
Get Some (Soft) Skills
On that note, it’s important to note that robots are great at doing normal tasks that can be automated. However, tasks like communication and client relationship management are amongst the host of tasks that robots are still, for lack of better terms, fairly bad at completing to the level humans. Although one would intuitively believe that getting hard skills will be the way to “defeat” these robots, soft skills are going to be some key strengths to put on your resume. With the emergence of robots, don’t be shocked if there’s some sort of increase in the wage gap. Why? It will become increasingly difficult for those that do not have the skills to surpass robots and artificial intelligence to get new jobs. On the other hand, those that do have jobs will be able to afford commodities that used to be made by humans at a much cheaper price. Competition amongst these companies will lower prices for consumers, allowing the “haves” to increase their own wealth while the “hane nots” struggle to get by.
It’s going to be critical for the next generation to educate themselves in tasks that are very different from what we focused on as we grew up. Computer science and a large focus on technology are going to be critical for new students to remain competitive in this ever changing world. Whether the education system reforms itself or parents hold the responsibility to make their kids attain new skills, the next generation will have to adapt. However, education won’t just come from the classroom. It’s not like people will be completely replaced by robots. Those that can learn about new technologies and learn to work with them will also be successful in new technological markets.
It’ll All Be Okay
Like I started off by saying in this article, change is the only constant. This is also true of those jobs that seem to be more secure. At the end of the day, we should look at artificial intelligence and robotics as a method to that will cause job transformation, not job replacement. Computers will still need to be created by humans and continuing to improve these robots will be a part of human existence in the future.
Although the future of Artificial Intelligence is unknown and is still heatedly debated amongst some great thinkers, the kind of AI we are talking about has already come. It’ll only improve with time as processes become more efficient and overall cheaper. AI is still new, and there’s a lot to be excited for in the future.