The nature of work has historically been dependent on the roles we undertake, and the meanings of such roles for us as individuals fitting into a larger society. To many people, work is the means to a materialistic end, such as paying the bills. To others, it is a way of realising life’s desires. In any case, technology is reshaping definitions of work. Particularly, artificial intelligence (AI) is automating many existing jobs, hence the human workforce is being redirected and retrained for new roles at the same time it seems at increasing risk of robotic replacement.
Artificial intelligence systems are designed to imitate human intelligence; to perform tasks that require complex human skills such as voice recognition, decision making, analysis, learning, and visual perception. The way companies implement AI will shape the nature of future jobs. Information technology professionals will increasingly be called upon to deploy their technical skills across the organisation in challenging situations. Leadership as well as technical knowledge will be crucially important.
Many existing roles will inevitably disappear; however, many others could emerge to replace them. In 10 to 20 years we are likely to see radical shifts in how our businesses, clients, vendors, and other stakeholders have been transformed through the deployment of AI. Below are ten examples of how this increasingly disruptive technology could radically change a wide range of professions in the future.
1. Doctors/Surgeons: AI could improve access to medical services in remote areas of the world. The lack of doctors in remote areas may not be a problem anymore. Robotic surgeons could operate on patients and perform complex medical procedures while being monitored remotely by humans in hospitals kilometres away. Important medical decisions may be made by AI doctors, minimising errors and reducing medical litigation. Health information from patients may have to be stored in complex, intelligent systems and codified to protect the patient’s privacy. This will have consequences in public health systems in general
2. Teachers: Information is already accessible and may be available for learning through AI software that adapts curricula according to the students’ needs. Learners could use mobile learning devices such as mobile phones and laptops, which will allow them to learn within a context through a real-life project. For example, a student could be learning as an apprentice at a communication agency while their teacher is at the school hub monitoring the activity. Could teacher-student ratio dilemmas be solved by AI? Consequently, the role of teachers may be focused on designing learning software according to curricula and coaching students to help them learn new skills.
3. Investment Analysts: Fund managers require more customised information with the latest data. AI analytics software could give access to constantly changing and dynamic investment information, providing information specifically tailored to the client´s demand. The analysis will use real-time data, the latest news, company updates, and risk probabilities to inform investment decisions in a matter of seconds.
4. Lawyers: Based on complex algorithms, which incorporate historical data, legislative procedures, criminal records, and other relevant information, lawsuits may be easily solved by AI lawyers, potentially leading to the avoidance of human error. The automating of different legal services like contract drafting has already happened, and this could reduce the demand for human lawyers. The impact AI will have throughout sectors in society, such as self-driving cars, should reduce legal problems, meaning that human lawyers may only be required for complex legal situations.
5. Sales Representatives: The vast majority of shopping might be done online. Portable devices like smart watches may allow customers to purchase goods with only one click at the exact moment they see it. For example, people watching an advertisement poster will be able to immediately click on the product, instantly purchase it, and it will be delivered within a few minutes by a flying drone. Clothing and self-care products could have styling algorithms and use personal consumer information such as skin type and hair length in order to make personalised product suggestions to the buyer.
6. Travel Agents: Customers may have bespoke requirements when planning their holidays and will probably expect more than just a detailed itinerary. The role of future travel agents might be focused on implementing virtual reality multisensorial experiences that allow their clients to test out their holiday plans and make better decisions. For example, people will be able to taste the hotel catering or walk at the beach in front of the hotel before choosing the vacation package they want to purchase. Holiday planning could be based on AI software’s personalised suggestions created from personal information about the group of people going on the trip, number of members, ages, and personal interests.
7. Life Coaches/Therapists: AI software could process all the intimate information of patients, including their mental health history. Virtual life coaches and AI therapists could help users reach their life goals and overcome different mental health problems. For example, depression cases may be treated with an AI therapist that gives daily input to the person and identifies their mood swings, analyse the probability of triggering a depressive crisis, and assess the person according to their history and specific needs.
8. Managers: Automating might eliminate most of the jobs that require supervision. Digitalisation of business may significantly reduce the need for a human manager in charge of writing up reports, briefings, or supervising teams. The role of managers may be focused on supervising the development of the virtual customer experience, combine different software solutions, and lead online sales strategies.
9. Research and Development: Artificial intelligence could be used to analyse data, provide solutions, and suggest innovations in the scientific field. Some developers have already been replaced by AI systems that have the capacity to perform trial and error in a few seconds using real-time data and develop new products. For example, an AI system could collect consumer information about the needs and demands for a new product; it could then modify or improve existing designs, and then a 3D printer could take the new design and print the product in a couple of hours.
10. Entrepreneurs/Leaders: Entrepreneurs’ main focus when building a new business might be to identify different AI systems and combine them to create a new business model. Single-person business may progressively be more common, where one person manages a series of AI systems working together.
In a future where technology is constantly changing the job market, there are roles at risk, but also new possibilities arising. IT professionals now have the opportunity to develop new skills and meet new consumer needs evolving out of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence.
Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, and Helena Calle, Fast Future
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Mopic