What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Well, it is the ability of a computer to carry out operations which a human carries out by learning to recognise shapes, structures and patterns, enabling it to make decisions. Robots are an example of artificial intelligence and below are some examples of how AI is being developed and used in various industries to perform the roles of humans.


•    Healthcare


A company called ‘Arterys’ has a programme that can perform a magnetic resonance imaging analysis of blood flow through a heart in just 15 seconds. Humans take 45 minutes to do the same task.

 

Robots are helping surgeons remove organs and cancerous tissue and according to Scientific Scientific American a prototype robotic surgeon called STAR (Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot) outperformed human surgeons in a test in which both had to repair the severed intestine of a live pig.


•    Law


Systems have been developed and are continuing to be developed to read contracts and documents, cutting down the time needed by the solicitor on this task by up to 60 per cent.


•    Airline Industry


A robotic co-pilot developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) flew and landed a simulated 737. This advance in technology is not surprising given that pilots of commercial Boeing 777s are stated as only spending seven minutes during an average flight of actually flying the plan and the computer does the rest.


•    Car Industry


You may have already heard of Tesla and driverless cars. Uber has also announced plans to buy 24,000 Volvo sport utility vehicles to roll out as a driverless fleet between 2019 and 2021.


•    Acting


Filmmakers have already used computer graphics to reanimate Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.’

How do people think AI will affect or alter jobs in the future?


In 2013, the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science stated that they estimate that 47% of current jobs, including insurance underwriter, sports referee and loan officer are at risk of falling victim to automation, perhaps within a decade or two and Martin Ford, the author of ‘Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future.’ Stated that the most vulnerable jobs are those involving predictable, repetitive tasks, however much training they require.’


It is therefore clear that there is predicted to be a period of change around many of the current roles which people perform, so what you understand the job to be now may be different when you come to do the job or there is the risk that a certain job may not exist at all. However, rather than this being something to be concerned about, it should be looked at as an opportunity and with optimism since many of the AI advances will free people up from repetitive tasks to do something else and AI advancements are creating new job opportunities all of the time.

It is also predicted that AI will help improve the UK economy;  Maria Axente, the AI Programme Driver for PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers) in her report with Jonnie Penn of the University of Cambridge on AI stated ‘Our analysis suggests it (AI) could contribute up to an extra $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Within this global growth, we estimate a 10.3% increase of UK GDP as a result of using AI – the equivalent of an additional £232bn – making it one of the biggest commercial opportunities in today’s fast-changing economy.’ 


What roles are thought to be ‘safe’ from AI advances at the moment and what additional roles are likely to be created?


Examples of some roles considered to be ‘safe’ from AI are:


•    People whose role involves lots of different tasks since AI can only replicate one of those tasks
•    Manual industries which require a number of physical tasks to be performed i.e. plumbers or electricians
•    Performing Arts – AI can create and develop songs, but currently is unable to ‘perform’ and sing a song to the same standard as a human
•    Sportsmen/women
•    Martin Ford – ‘Professions that rely on creative thinking enjoy some protection i.e. biomedical engineering, so do jobs emphasizing empathy and interpersonal communication i.e. a psychologist.’
•    Andrew McAfee, a management theorist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stated ‘I think health coaches are going to be a big industry of the future and restaurants that have a very good hospitality staff are not about to go away, even though we have more options to order via tablet.’


New Opportunities emerging are:


•    AI developer/programmers - AI relies on new technology to improve and speed up the learning process. New tools are appearing that are based on neural biology, new computational paradigms and machine learning 
•    Business Consultants who can re-design a current business model to make it more effective – for example, a number of truck delivery companies are preparing for a future where they won’t need drivers to driver the deliveries from customer to customer, but they will need people to monitor the deliveries and engage with the customer to ensure they are happy with the deliveries.


Summary


Some areas are more advanced than others in AI development since it can be an expensive and time-consuming process, so many industries are still weighing up whether the investment is worth the potential return and what benefit AI will be to them. Therefore, how much or how little AI advancements will affect the industry you want to work in needs to be closely monitored by you so you are in a position to change and adapt as the industry you want to work in changes and adapts or you may decide that you want to train and learn the technical skills required so you can be part of the AI development in the industry you want to work in. 


Whatever job/role you decide to pursue, being aware of the changes which AI may bring to that role we hope will enable you to make an informed decision on how you are going to proceed.


Some information extracted from the New York Times – ‘Will Robots Take Our Children’s Jobs?’ by Alex Williams Dec. 11, 2017

How will artificial intelligence potentially affect you and the job you would like to do?

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