Artificial Intelligence is a term we’ve been hearing for the past few decades. From its humble beginnings towards the end of the 20th century via depictions in movies such as Terminator and Robocop, to its more recent manifestations via chatbots and shopping recommendation engines, AI and Machine Learning techniques are now well-poised to wipe out redundancy and disguised unemployment at the workplace.
Let’s take a closer look at understanding AI, its disruption capability, and how you can future-proof yourself.
So, what is AI, and how does it work?
Data forms the backbone of any organisational decision today. There is a plethora of raw and unrefined data all around us. According to a GE report, over 10 TB of data is generated per aeroplane engine for every 30 minutes of flight time. Harnessing this data and making sense of it is where Big Data techniques play a critical role. Machine Learning algorithms permit computers to keep absorbing this mountain of data and its deep learning and neural network patterns allow it to come up with meaningful inferences, almost to the point where it can safely predict the next steps. This is what the human mind does. This is Artificial Intelligence.
What are the commonly used applications of AI today?
AI has ingrained itself in our lives in more ways that we know. Chatbots are a common sight these days on most websites, where pre-programmed responses are provided for routine questions. Another common application is the virtual assistant, such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant, that is capable of processing spoken speech via its Natural Learning Processing (NLP) capabilities. This data is then analysed and the virtual assistant uses repeat actions to come up with more precise recommendations and suggestions. Similar to a human assistant, the virtual assistants grow smarter with every new interaction.
Does AI impact your job?
You will be surprised to know how real Artificial Intelligence is. As per the World Government Summit, AI has the potential to replace over 7.1 million jobs in 2015-2020. With wide-spread applications such as image and voice recognition engines, AI techniques such as Robotics Process Automation (RPA) are ready to disrupt routine jobs, especially those around operations and other mundane processes. For professionals with a significant level of expertise and higher-level cognitive skills such as doctors and accountants, AI will play a big role in enhancing the job, rather than replacing it.
How can you future-proof yourself, today?
While AI has the potential to unsettle the way we perceive employability, it also gives rise to a completely new function, fueled with a large number of highly skilled jobs around statistics, computer programming, design and engineering. An estimated two million jobs are expected to open up by 2020 and staying abreast with relevant skills is going to define the next wave of opportunities.
Upskilling yourself in competency-based training tools and programmes is the need of the hour and much of the focus of the Government and private-sector participants is now on ensuring the supply-side of manpower is commensurate to the expected demand for these skills. With the arrival and wide acceptance of EdTech, upskilling yourself is now within reach. MOOC platforms have also played a pivotal role in the adoption and democratisation of such trainings and made it possible to learn right from incubators and AI labs in leading universities such as MIT and Carnegie Mellon.
Another way to future-proof yourself is to garner perceptive and cognitive skills that require logical reasoning, adaptability, creativity and common sense. These are the toughest cookies for Artificial Intelligence to crack and are generally considered outside the purview of typical algorithms.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)