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Future-Proofing your Career in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Whether you buy into the dystopian future fantasy as portrayed by the Terminator and reinforced by Elon Musk or you believe in the more utopian optimistic approach of Mark Zuckerberg, the fact remains that AI is rapidly becoming a vital part of our lives and it’s going to stay. Armageddon or Not!

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have become the talk of the town world and a day doesn’t go by without another prediction on how it already is and going to impact the jobs. Experts at McKinsey, a US-based worldwide consulting firm, state approximately 70 million jobs will be impacted by automation by 2030 in USA alone; in contrast, a report from Gartner states that AI may create more jobs than it eliminates. However, one thing is certain – we are witnessing a period of unprecedented change, and these statistics and predictions should be enough for making you pause and re-think about the relevance of your skills and abilities in the long term.

We have all witnessed how technological disruptions have dramatically changed the corporate structures. Starting from the invention of computers to rise of the internet to the explosive outbreak of smartphones and tablets; every one of these disruptions was preceded by the predictions of mass unemployment. However, what happened was the complete opposite. With the rise of AI, sure, a lot many mundane and repetitive tasks/jobs will fall prey to the disruption caused by it but if past is any indicator, then it is safe to say that various new avenues of employment will arise as well.

So, in simpler words, No! the rise of AI won’t lead to mass unemployment. It might cause some uneasiness but half the population won’t end up unemployed. However, in order to still be relevant in an AI dominated corporate environment, humans will have to hone their unique skillsets which don’t have any substitutes or the ones that are required to effectively leverage AI for the benefit of the organization.

So whether you’re in a college, starting your career or have been a part of an organization for decades, here are some areas that you need to develop in order to stay relevant in an AI dominated workplace and world:

  1. Keep Innovating: Even though we have established that AI won’t render the human population begging for jobs, it still threatens those jobs which are repetitive and could be easily automated. Therefore, employees need to explore alternative ways in which they can contribute to and outside their existing job profile. To do that, you’ll need to constantly reinvent yourself.
  2. Upskill, Adapt & Stay Ahead of the Curve: With the fourth industrial revolution upon us, reflect on what you do well and what areas of your work could get automated with AI & ML in your industry. A lot of schools have begun acknowledging the need for artificial intelligence and machine learning-driven courses and are offering full time and part-time courses to equip you with the relevant skills. Look out for such schools and upskill yourself to stay ahead of the curve.
  3. Develop Emotional Intelligence: When we talk about human skills which can never be replaced by a machine, Emotional Quotient (EQ) or Emotional Intelligence is at the top of that list. EQ, in simple terms, is your ability to understand people, their motivations and ways to work with them in a harmonious and cooperative manner. EQ is now considered as a more valuable trait than IQ for long term success because in any business people ultimately want to interact with humans and not follow a machine, literally and figuratively.
  4. Work on Creative Problem Solving: Thinking out of the box, solving problems in unconventional ways, recognizing new opportunities etc. are some of the key traits that qualify as creative problem solving techniques and these skills will always be relevant regardless of how deeply AI penetrates the workplace. As per a study conducted by Adobe, 86 percent of 2000 educators in USA, UK, Japan and Germany believe that students who possess creative skills are bound to bag higher-paying jobs in the future and won’t be affected by automation due to AI & ML.

 

To Conclude, AI and subsequent automation will change the face of many jobs, but it will create even more new opportunities. While these new opportunities don’t yet exist, the need for human skills to effectively maximise the potential of these opportunities will never become obsolete.

Incessant education, upskilling, relearning, exposure to different cultures, building and nurturing a diverse network of peers, and proactively seeking out feedback on your work will allow you to refine your unique human skills that is impossible for robots or machines to live up to. Regardless of how AI may or may not impact the workplace, demonstrating emotional intelligence, creativity, empathy, intellectual curiosity, and adaptability will serve you well for building a long, and rewarding career.

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