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Choosing a profession in the age of artificial intelligence

Choosing a profession in the age of artificial intelligence
By Stella Law

tp 201908 future 03 2Since you鈥檙e reading this, odds are high you already know what artificial intelligence (AI) is and why many fear that it will eventually supplant workers and lead to an ever-expanding pool of unemployable humans. In fact, it is tempting to argue - and rightly so - that AI is already outshining humans in a diverse range of professions, such as medical diagnosis, speech translation, gameplay, accounting, and so on.



tp 201908 future 05The prophecies about ever-improving automation and increasingly smarter machines robbing more people of their livelihood in the coming years and decades are really scary. And if they actually materialize, which they may very well, that brings us to the million-dollar question: what profession should the upcoming generations ideally target in order to be employable?




Swedish-American physicist and cosmologist, Max Tegmark, seems to be of the view that in order to survive in the shrinking job market, our future generations will have to narrow down their career choices to only those professions that machines are currently not very good at.



tp 201908 future 06In his bestselling book, Life 3: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Tegmark argues that these are the jobs that are very unlikely to get cosy with automation in the foreseeable future. Easy as it may sound to the uninitiated, it is actually pretty hard to convincingly assess which professions are likely to fit that category - especially considering that the growth trajectory of AI technology has been phenomenal in the recent past.



tp 201908 future 02Tegmark has a way to get around that problem though. He proposes that, in order to be certain that a profession will resist giving in to the power of automation, we will have to make sure that it meets the following three requirements:


鈥 It must require a higher degree of social intelligence and in-person interactions. Smart as they may be, machines are unlikely to outperform humans in tasks requiring socializing with other humans. At least not anytime in the foreseeable future.


鈥 It must involve problems that require the kind of creativity and ingenuity that only the human mind is capable of.


鈥 It must have a work environment that involves a higher degree of unpredictability. This is considering that machine intelligence can thrive and become progressively smarter in highly structured, repetitive, and predictable environments. Any task involving constant and unpredictable changes is not really meant for automation.







tp 201908 future 07Given these criteria, it is extremely probable that professions, such as doctor, teacher, dentist, lawyer, engineer, artist, musician, programmer, social worker, entrepreneur, will likely stay beyond the grasp of machines at least through the next few decades. Using the same logic, the professions that appear to be at the risk of being mowed down by automation include tax accountant, paralegal, bookkeeper, credit analyst, cab/truck drivers (the self-driving vehicle revolution is already underway), loan officer, etc.



tp 201908 future 08Of course, these are just presumptive assessments at this juncture considering that never before in the history of civilization have we encountered a situation like this. Perhaps we will have a better perspective of how the age of AI will unfold within by the end of the next decade or so. That鈥檚 when automation is expected to spread out to most industries that are still dependent on human skills today.


So, always stay vigilant of whatever is going on in the job market worldwide and never miss a chance to upgrade your skills. Also, feel free to share your thoughts about the possible impact of AI on employment opportunities in these fast-evolving social and technological landscapes.



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