Artur Kiulian

@arturkiulian

How To Avoid Being Replaced by A Robot

August 4th 2017

Facing The Next Wave Of Automation And Machine Intelligence

There is growing concern everywhere about the impact of automation on the job market. Pundits, journalists, technology experts disagree on how swift and profound this transition will be.

Optimists say that despite the fact that automation is inevitable in the long run, only 5 percent of jobs in the US will be fully automated by 2055. Others describe a gloomy scenario of 47 percent of the US jobs being at risk of automation over the next 20 years.

No matter how fast the automation will transform the job market, you should get ready for the AI-driven economy where robots, AI software, and automation tools replace humans in tasks they have performed for decades.

To stay competitive in the machine age, here’s a list of strategies to harness the potential of Artificial Intelligence.

Understand How To Talk With Machines

Interactive AI software such as chatbots, virtual assistants (e.g Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa), and analytics platforms (e.g IBM Watson analytics) change the way consumers and companies get information and make decisions.

To harness the power of intelligent machines, people should master interfaces and strategies that enable efficient human-machine interaction. The same way as Google Search Engine rewards those users who enter relevant search queries, Artificial Intelligence will be the most generous to those people who excel in communication with them.

An employee who interacts with a business analytics AI should know perfectly well what kind of insights and predictions he or she wants to get from the machine. In this context, effective AI management skills come to the foreground.

Those employees who manage to get the most value out of powerful AI capabilities will become a valuable asset to their companies in the new machine age.

Understand High-Level Concepts

Computer literacy has been the indispensable part of the employee’s skill set in the PC era. Today, as we are entering the age of Artificial Intelligence, AI literacy will become one of the most important assets to stay competitive in the labor market.

AI literacy refers to the knowledge of fundamental concepts, technologies, and solutions that make AI work. The same way as most of us know that digital information is stored in bytes, it won’t be a waste of your time to study how ML (Machine Learning) algorithms work, what is the difference between supervised and unsupervised learning, or how to install and configure an AI software suite.

There are many online courses and guides that offer a basic introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI), which even a person without the relevant technical and mathematical background can understand. The easiest thing you can do now is just to start using open-source AI software to experience the power of this technology.

Improve Creativity

It’s not an exaggeration to say that AI outperforms humans in repetitive tasks and operations that require heavy computations. By virtue of these skills, AI will sooner or later replace taxi and truck drivers, consumer assistants, and manual workers.

Skills that machines take over, though, are not the only ones people have. Creativity remains the most unique and important part of human intelligence that makes such innovations as AI possible. The domain of human creativity is extremely broad and diverse. It covers not just scientific discovery, but a wide variety of small life hacks, optimization solutions, and insights people come up in their daily lives and work.

To stay competitive in the coming AI age, people should develop those skills that make them stand out from the crowd. This will require altering the psychology of the Fordist assembly line that treats employees as ‘robots’ performing repetitive and thoughtless operations.

Once real robots enter the job market, more people, not just a small fraction of the creative class, will have a potential to expand their creative skills.

Expanding Horizons of Intelligence

A theory of multiple intelligences assumes that human intelligence is not an abstract set of logical rules, but a complex system that involves emotional, social, verbal, bodily-kinesthetic, and intrapersonal skills.

What this means, is that after the arrival of AI era humans will continue to play a crucial role in spheres where human-human communication matters. Justice, health care, psychotherapy, nursing, art are just a few examples of activities in which robots are likely to play a limited supportive role.

To stay competitive in the automation age, people should focus on skills and faculties that make them different from machines. This is where emotional and social intelligence comes to the foreground. Developing empathy, becoming a good team player, manager, and leader will be the main priority of employees seeking to find their place in the AI-based economy.

When machines become the indispensable part of our economy, technical competence will not be enough to compete on par with them.

Assisting and Augmenting Machines

AI will not replace most of the jobs in the near future. In most cases, it will simply augment employees, turning them into AI operators and assistants. In this context, they will have to learn how to effectively configure and collaborate with machines.

For example, chatbot startups are hiring AI trainers who evaluate the performance of AI software and step in if something goes wrong. Many chatbot startups use vertical AI that performs one specific task, such as arranging a call or meeting of the consumer with a human employee.

Such format will maintain the crucial role of human employees in mediating communication between AI and consumers. Similarly, a number of employees will do data labeling, clean up, deduplication to create datasets needed to train ML algorithms.

All these activities will give a rise to a mixed AI economy where employees cooperate with machines to deliver value to their companies.

What’s Next?

It’s counter-productive to treat AI revolution as a threat to humanity. At each stage of our economic history, technology disruption led to the change of the labor market. Manufactory, industrial plants, assembly line, computers are just historical stages of automation that brought a huge improvement in the standard of living.

The same is true about machine intelligence. It will reformat the labor market making some jobs obsolete, but its ultimate effect on our society will depend on how well we use our competitive advantage and infinite creativity to harness the power of AI.

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