After the Terminator movie, an increasing number of movies have been made envisioning a reality where Robots are the norm. In 2017, Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to a robot named Sophia, leading to arguments from opposing schools of thought on the ethics, adoption, and future of Robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Regardless, Robots and AI are already present-day; robots are used by hospitals to dispense drugs and by retailers for movement of goods in the warehouse, and if you use Google or Amazon, chances are that you are experiencing the use of AI technology. In the real estate industry, robots are able to conduct showings, and workplaces now employ the use of AI in recruiting employees.
When it comes to AI and Robotics, there are three major camps; those who are excited about it and wholly embrace it, those who see the value but are cautiously and closely watching the space, and those who see doom and gloom, and are anxious about the future. It may be fair to say that for many of us, our perception of Robots or AI have largely been shaped by futuristic movies and comics books or by the picture painted by stories and the news of how AI and Robots will take over our jobs or be uncontrollable. With the multitude of varying opinions out there, it is not surprising that many are cautious about a future where AI and Robots is the norm. It is worth pointing out that most of the fears that exist may simply stem from the unknown, and from some of the creative liberty and minds in Hollywood.
Understanding the likely impact that AI and Robotics will have on your jobs, organizations or industry will better equip you to manage and deal with the inevitable. There is a great amount of information on AI and Robotics readily available, conferences that explore and address every angle, and thought leaders willing to share their views and findings on the future of AI and Robotics.
In response to the question on how human civilization will be affected by AI, Bill Gates had this to say, “AI is just the latest in technologies that allow us to produce a lot more goods and services with less labor. And overwhelmingly, over the last several hundred years, this has been great for society”. Just as with past technological developments, while AI and Robotics will revolutionize activities in the workplace, it is not likely to completely take over.
For every professional who desires to excel and remain relevant in the work they do, it is no longer an option to ignore the changes and disruption being brought on AI and Robots, and how it will likely impact your industry and job. AI and Robots are now a part of everyday life.
Some in the ‘pro’ camp would argue that the intention for technologies such as AI and Robotics is for increased efficiency and to complement human expertise, and not to replace humans. While the opposing camp lean towards the other extreme end of the spectrum where Robots rule the world. Whatever camp we find ourselves with regards AI and Robotics, one thing is clear, the potential disruption brought on by these technologies will render some skills, products and services obsolete.
According to a Forbes article, it is estimated that by 2020, AI will create 2.3 million jobs, while eliminating 1.8 million. This tells us there will be new jobs and skills that don’t exist today, and some of the current job skills will be deemed obsolete just like in the past where as a result of technological advancements, some jobs in manufacturing and farming sector for example were no longer required, and new jobs were created.
How will AI and Robots affect your job? From a 10,000 foot view, it is said that jobs requiring high interaction with humans, creativity, imagination, leadership and are non-repetitive will likely remain (but evolve) e.g. Construction workers, Police Force, Book Authors, Entertainment industry; on the flip side, jobs that require a high level of quantitative analysis, following patterns and executing routine work e.g. Accounting, Bookkeeping, Tellers, and Manufacturing etc. will highly benefit from the use of AI, Robotics and Automation.
As a result of ongoing disruption, there is a need to constantly update our occupational skills to remain relevant, most especially in the AI era. Perceptive employees are beginning to ask, “What skills do I need to work in an era of AI and Robotics?” Or deliberating on the value of acquiring more knowledge in AI and Robotics related areas such as computer science, math, technology, logic and engineering.
Skills relating to data analytics, data science, analytical thought processing, problem solving, technical design and software advancement will come in handy if you intend to pursue a career in this field. For some professionals, these skills could be additional to complement your current skill-set, knowledge or expertise, and some may need to take on a whole new career path. And for some others, simply keeping abreast of changes and trends taking place may be sufficient for now as you learn about how your field and industry will be impacted, and you determine the best approach to move forward.
Every leader, manager, or professional who has a desire to be relevant in the future workforce will be required to seek ways to acquire the knowledge and skills regarding AI and Robotics. It is every employee’s responsibility to take up the leadership mantel and lead themselves if they want excel and be part of a future where disruption is the norm.
The writing on the wall is evident, the future belongs to those who pay attention to change and trends, and prepare for opportunities; as the saying goes, “chance favors the prepared mind”. Now is the time for every professional – leader, manager or employee – to embrace a growth mindset by updating their skills as needed or retraining to prepare for the inevitable winds of change, your professional growth and development is non-negotiable.
What about the Ethics of AI & Robotics?
Personal Data, Lethal Autonomous Weapon, Self-Driving Cars, Robot Astronauts, Healthcare, all have something in common; they are testing the boundaries of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics… Stay Connected with us for this next blog release.
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Yvonne is a Change Strategist, Catalyst and Advocate who is passionate about working with professionals and organisations to help them successfully lead and transition through change. You can learn more about Yvonne at: www.yvonnerukeakpoveta.com and connect with her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.