The future is robotic. For years, you’ve heard the predictions. They warned, One day, robots will take your jobs. It’s no longer a far-fetched conspiracy theory or dinner fodder with your slightly unhinged uncle. The World Economic Forum boldly announced that within three years (by the year 2020), five million jobs will be lost to robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). If your job is vulnerable to a robot takeover, you’re decidedly not excited about an AI takeover. However, if you’re interested in a career in the AI field, this news is very exciting indeed.
So far, we’ve seen massive growth in AI. From the mainstream use of personal assistants like Siri and Google Now to predictive analytics algorithms employed by big retailers such as Amazon and Target, AI is becoming an accepted part of everyday life. China is at the forefront of AI innovative, with the Chinese government pledging to invest $15 billion into AI development by next year.
For those working in the tech space, the expansion and exploration of AI means more jobs. While experts predict that AI will overtake a third of all current jobs by 2030, it’s also true that AI will create millions more. It’s estimated that 15 million jobs will be created in design, software, engineering, training, and support, and those jobs are hiring now and in the immediate future.
What do you need to know to secure your future and succeed in an AI career? To answer this question, we reached out to two top industry experts, Brett Raven, Chief Technology Officer at Big Red Group, and Sam McRoberts, Contributor at Inc. & Entrepreneur. We’ll share their insights below.
How AI is being introduced to Tech teams
Even for those who work in the tech industry, there is still a lot to learn about artificial intelligence, including what it can do and how it can be manipulated. It’s an exciting term, so it can be tempting to rush in, but Big Red’s Raven highlights the importance of the evaluation stage;
On preparing his team for the launch of artificial intelligence marketing platform, Albert. “The team spent weeks evaluating AI usage across the eCommerce industry to better understand how Albert may fit in the market. Deeper AI knowledge was achieved, which has started giving rise to other internal AI projects.
“For Albert specifically, it has been extremely important to not only understand how the system works, but the need to comprehend what Albert needs to do his job effectively was paramount. This includes required data feeds, integration points, content and access to various analytics and social media accounts.”
Getting started with research
As AI continues to mature and evolve, the most effective AI team is the one that’s dedicated to research. Raven shares, “There is so much out there on AI. It’s currently in the hype-cycle, but it is starting to deliver some real results.”
When asked for his favorite resources for expanding one’s knowledge in AI, McRoberts shared, “I think The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos is a good place for anyone to start. It’s a great book, and gives you a solid foundation to work from. There are great online courses available from Coursera and MIT to learn Machine Learning.”
McRoberts continued, “There are a ton of resources out there to help with this. I’m far from an expert in this space though, just a passionate futurist.”
The Near Future of AI
Robot apocalypse aside, what can we realistically expect from AI within the next few years? Albert has already made a huge impact to keyword research and cost per customer. Will AI like Albert affect those who currently work in the marketing industry?
For Raven, the digital marketing industry is already affected. He shares, “As with many industries that rely on human-based pattern detection to make decisions, those subsets of marketing (specifically digital marketing and ad-spend agencies) will very quickly feel the pinch and will have to adapt accordingly. This is happening right now, not six months from now, so the sense of urgency is real.”
The future is closer than we previously thought.
When asked what his plans involve for the rest of 2017, Raven declared, “Bots mostly.” Raven shared that AI bots carry the most potential currently. “There is a lot we can do with bots in marketing, customer service, and support. [We are] also looking at AI for predictions on when things may go wrong with our website, software or platform. Finally, we are digging into AI based A/B testing –more on this later!”
McRoberts also provided insight on what’s happening at present in AI. “Right now I see two major trends: Companies trying to use machine learning to find useful patterns and learnings from their own data warehouses, and companies looking to automate routine and monotonous parts of their workflow (think chatbots instead of human customer service, or X.ai to handle scheduling meetings or replying to basic emails on your behalf). It’s being used to improve efficiency and efficacy in many different ways though.”
Taking a philosophical turn, McRoberts opined, “To be frank, I think we’re about to enter the next phase in human evolution, one that we control directly. And I believe that’s the only way we can go, if we want to solve the issues we see across the globe. Global warming. War. Poverty. We have many of the same problems today that we had 5,000 years ago, because the human brain evolves slowly, and many of our issues are rooted in our biology. If we don’t take control of our own evolution, and upgrade ourselves, fix some of our inherent flaws, we may not actually survive long enough to evolve past our issues at a natural pace.
“I don’t expect to see a Kurzweilian Singularity occur, but I do expect that man and machine will merge significantly in the next decade or two.”
The underlying challenge
For Raven, the biggest challenge is the fact that AI is still new and undiscovered. “Seeing through the hype and understanding that AI is still in many ways is in its infancy. It requires a solid body of data before it can do anything useful. Also choosing the right AI platforms for implementation is key – backing the right horse will help you win the long race.”
Whether you’re looking at a job in AI, or you’re hoping to prepare your team to work with this type of technology, the key to success is two-fold: Research and experiment. Because AI is new and ever-evolving, any contribution you make has the power to dramatically impact the industry. Don’t worry about a robot revolution– make sure that you’re leading the charge.
Any major change always has pros and cons. While AI is scaling up, futurists say automating routine tasks will improve job satisfaction for 62% of low skilled workers. Workplace injuries are also likely to fall by 11% as robots take over the most physically dangerous jobs.
At the same time, the cons are a sense of fear among both white collar and blue collar workers about just how secure their job is. Is your current career susceptible to a robot takeover? Check out this massive study to find out if your job is primed for automation.