The soon omnipresence of AI and computational technologies presents people at the onset of their career with the approaching threat of displacement. Students must strategically utilize the resources, programs, and individuals at their universities to identify the most sustainable careers in the highly-automated future.
For individuals entering today’s workforce, the advent of artificial intelligence offers both exciting potential and impending risk. Current technological advancements have uncovered a new field of careers and simultaneously displaced entire industries of human labor. Transitions from cashiers to self-checkout machines and assembly lines workers to robots may appear as obvious fixes; although, the future prominence of technologies replacing roles such as therapists and epidemiologists display the pervasive threat of automation on seemingly untouchable positions. Byron Reese, author of The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity, has identified four ages of significant innovation and consequent evolutionary adaptation. The discovery of fire gave rise to language, agriculture developed cities, and the wheel and writing expanded communication and shared knowledge across borders. In this fourth age, computational technologies and artificial intelligence will similarly challenge the current limits of human capabilities, marking another period of history. In order to best succeed in this new reality, individuals at the onset of their career must strategically avoid automation’s next casualty.
Since an unpredictable future awaits, successfully preparing for an automated reality is much easier said than done. According to the 2017 study conducted by the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have not yet been discovered. Therefore, the necessary hard and soft skills for people’s imminent careers are not obvious today. With that being said, many futurists, trend forecasters, and recruiters agree that certain traits prove immensely useful when preparing for a time of uncertainty. As one of the more frequently suggested skills, exposure to computer programming is a necessity in the Digital Age. The current and future world’s dependability on electronic devices demands code literacy for nearly all employees. This knowledge ensures individuals can identify problems, suggest solutions, and drive results in the language orchestrating technology. To augment individuals’ basic computer literacy skills, TIME Magazine urges students to master skills unique to humans, such as entrepreneurship, teamwork, creativity, and cultural agility. With expertise in these areas, employees improve their adaptability and decrease their chances of displacement.
While experts can estimate the best qualities for future workers, some of today’s top tech companies shine light on tomorrow’s most valuable employees. Google, one of the companies leading the AI revolution, has, in many ways, demonstrated the type of background that will serve useful in our journey to further automation. For instance, in February, the company elected sociologist Dr. Alex Hanna as the research scientist to spearhead the development of ethical AI and machine learning fairness. Dr. Hanna ensures Google adheres to its seven main objectives for AI applications, contributing to the development of socially responsible, unbiased, and safe AI. Given the long-term necessity of this role, Dr. Hanna’s academic and professional background outline effective ways to maintain a career in the future. Individuals should strive to augment their technological and computational skills with a thorough understanding of the social sciences.
The unpredictability of our near future can definitely frighten current students. Instead, it should force them to question the sustainability of their intended careers, as this is undoubtedly necessary in today’s rapidly changing environment. Since 1841, the University of Michigan has continued to inspire and prepare its students for their future endeavors. With exposure to computational research and data mining practice, QMSS builds on Michigan’s founding ideals of rigorous academics, expansive resources, and distinguished research. Given our undeniable reliance on technology in the future, this program is the perfect asset for anyone entering an unprecedented period of economic disruption. To be the best tomorrow, people must choose wisely today.
Aoun, Joseph E. “Prepare College Students for Artificial Intelligence Future.” Time. September 26, 2017. https://time.com/4957419/college-students-artificial-intelligence-preparation/.
Google. “Artificial Intelligence at Google: Our Principles.” Google AI. https://ai.google/principles.
Institute for the Future and DELL Technologies. The Next Era of Human Machine Partnerships: Emerging Technologies’ Impact On Society & Work In 2030. https://www.delltechnologies.com/content/dam/delltechnologies/assets/perspectives/2030/pdf/SR1940_IFTFforDellTechnologies_Human-Machine_070517_readerhigh-res.pdf.
Reese, Byron. The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity. New York, NY: Atria Paperback, 2020.