Historians warn against Presentism; a belief that today’s problems are uniquely complex and more difficult than before. Psychologists warn against catastrophising; a belief that problems will likely end up with the worst possible outcome. And scientists warn against anecdotalism; a belief that your experience explains what is happening in the world. Any discussion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) must keep in mind these three warnings.
The rate at which AI will affect the job market will only accelerate, impacting the highly trained and poorly educated alike. While recognising the imminent danger of how jobs are likely to be disrupted, we can say that many key jobs are safe from AI because AI still lags humans in fields where niche human qualities like communication, empathy, creativity, strategic thinking, questioning, and dreaming matter. Jobs that can essentially be performed by humans have three key elements: STEM education, creativity, and emotional intelligence.
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics will continue to remain important as the prevalence of robots and automated systems will mean an increased need for engineers, technicians, and managers to build, maintain, and control the quality of the work performed by mechanised labour. A McKinsey report shows that the number of engineering professionals like computer scientists, engineers, IT administrators, IT workers, and tech consultants will increase by 20 million to 50 million globally by 2030. These jobs, however, require staying up-to-date with technology and moving into areas that are not automated by technology. AI-focussed automation will create shifts in IT service requirements in such a way that jobs like research analysts, data entry operators, system engineers and test engineers become obsolete while newer roles such as research scientists, language processing specialists, robotic process automation developers, and man-machine teaming managers emerge.
While humans are innately capable of recognizing images, interpreting languages, drawing inferences and differentiating objects, machines require an exhaustive dataset to learn and mimic such skills. These hubs could employ people with primitive computer literacy to generate training material for AI systems. And, of course, the demand for AI professionals will rise as more mundane and repetitive work gets automated. Gartner Research Company estimates that in the next few years, there will be an increase in the number of AI professionals despite some entry-level AI positions being automated.
Industries like healthcare, education and hospitality and professions like management need strong communication skills, empathy, and the capacity to inspire or gain a person’s confidence; these jobs require emotional intelligence, which only a human being can give. The medical fraternity can use AI for analytical and administrative aspects of healthcare and make it cost effective for people. Managers with good human interaction skills will continue to have jobs. Managerial work will continue to be carried by humans and AI may be used to manage performance. Teachers will remain relevant in the context of helping students figure out their interests, and providing one-on-one mentorship; AI can be a tool to design curriculum.
The book The Globotics Upheaval by Richard Baldwin suggests that AI will disrupt lives more than globalisation, industrialisation and automation did. While he believes that the changes are inevitable, there are adaptive strategies that can be used, employing the skills that no machine can copy; creativity and independent thought.