The rise of artificial intelligence or AI in the past decades has resulted in collective anxiety around the world. The common apprehension is that there will be massive loss of jobs as robots and computers eventually replace employees. The fear is not without some basis; after all, robots and computers have proven to be far better than humans at executing certain tasks. However, it must be noted that not all jobs will eventually be replaced by AI. So, what?s the secret to staying ahead and remaining employable? The answer lies in knowing both what AI is capable of doing better than humans and what humans are capable of doing better than AI.
Jobs AI Can Replace
It is no secret that many jobs have been taken over by AI. For example, many manual tasks performed by human hands are now fully automated. You don’t have to sew by hand or do the dishes yourself, or you can pay for assignment help online, thus delegating all your assignments. But while it is true that AI is constantly advancing, the prediction that robots and computers will completely replace humans is for the most part exaggerated. This is based on the fact that the jobs replaced by advanced technology are usually confined to tasks that are relatively simple. Take for example machine learning. Machine learning is widely used today, but its function is often limited to one task involving one input and one output. Suppose that a program is capable of telling which photos show a human face and which do not. The program only has one output; that is, to identify which among the input are photos of human faces.
Although programs such as the one described above has various applications, it has two disadvantages. Firstly, massive amounts of data are necessary for the program to be able to perform the task well. Thus, the sample program will need to learn from a great deal of photos?thousands to millions?in order to learn what a human face looks like. Second, developing such programs are resource-intensive, requiring time, labor, and investments for them to be effective enough to perform jobs.
So how do we know which jobs are more likely to be replaced by AI? According to some researchers, AI will most likely replace jobs that have one output. Also, if a mental task can be executed by a human in less than one second, it can be automated in the future. Some concrete examples of jobs that AI can take over are those in bookkeeping, proofreading, retail, and telemarketing.
Jobs AI Can?t Replace
So, will AI replace a lot of jobs? Yes. But will it replace all jobs? No, because fortunately many jobs go beyond performing one task. In particular, jobs that require soft skills such as empathy and communication, creativity, strategic and critical thinking, and imaginativeness cannot be easily performed by AI. In the future, possessing these abilities will be a crucial advantage as simpler jobs are taken over by AI. Let?s take a closer look at these soft skills.
1. Critical Thinking
One of the soft skills that humans have that AI does not possess is critical thinking. While technology has advanced to an extent that it can perform tasks with great speed and precision, it is still by far incapable of employing critical thinking. AI is often taught to perform tasks in routine, but it cannot make decisions when faced by eventualities that go beyond what it has learned. For example, a human can improvise or follow gut instinct, but a machine cannot. Consider, for instance, a nurse or doctor who needs to make sense of separate bits of information to determine the best course of action for a patient in a medical emergency.
2. Strategic Thinking
Another competency that gives humans an edge over AI is strategic thinking, which is basically the ability to formulate strategies. Similar to critical thinking, strategic thinking requires a person to be able to make decisions based on analysis of information including their complex relationships to each other. For example, one program can gather a lot data with regard to the consumer preference for a given product while another program can collect the demographic data of buyers, but it takes a human with strategic thinking to synthesize the data to develop a marketing plan for the said product.
In recent years, AI has advanced enough to be able to produce creative works such as art, music, and even pieces of writing. However, what these works lack is the uniquely human touch. AI can produce creative works only in imitation of input, and it does so without understanding and consciousness. But nothing equals a creative work that?s original, innovative, relatable, and able to capture and express human emotion and the human condition. This is why jobs that require creativity such as those in writing, music, the visual and performing arts, and even engineering and marketing are less likely to be replaced.
4. Empathy and Communication Skills
Another advantage that humans have is their capacity for empathy and their effective communication skills. Humans are able to relate to and understand each other in ways that machines are unlikely to achieve anytime soon, if at all. This is why jobs that require excellent communication skills and empathy are unlikely to be automated. Take for example the way professionals in healthcare, education, social work, and psychology employ a full range of competencies to know how to converse, interact, and respond to their clients. Such jobs are currently irreplaceable.
Much like creativity, imagination is currently unique to human. As mentioned earlier, AI can only execute tasks that it has learned through input. More advanced AI, meanwhile, can get better in performing more complex tasks. But what AI cannot do right now is to go beyond the parameters of what it has learned. Humans, by contrast, can use their imagination to dream up new possibilities. Consider a designer who uses a computer program for renditions. The program quickens and streamlines the process of rendering, but it cannot make stylistic decisions the way the designer can. This is why inventors, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, writers, artists, and visionaries are unlikely to be replaced by robots or computers anytime soon.
6. Psychical Skills
Another ability that gives humans the upper hand is the possession of unique physical skills. This may stem from the fact that humans have great appreciation for exceptional physical skills. After all, there is nothing quite like watching an accomplished ballerina dancing gracefully across the stage or a star athlete running at record speed. Whether these are fine skills such as that of a concert pianist or a brute strength such as that of a weightlifter, extraordinary physical skills will remain an important asset for getting a job in the years to come.
7. Technical Know-How
Finally, technical knowledge is an advantage that humans have over AI. Regardless of their abilities, robots and machines still depend on humans for design and upkeep. Unless these technologies acquire the ability to maintain themselves, humans capable of working on them will remain employable.
As more and more jobs are taken over by computers, robots, and machines, finding a job is bound to become increasingly difficult in the future. However, acquiring and developing these soft skills are one of the keys in staying ahead of the game, whether you?re competing against AI or fellow humans.