We're in a period of rapid technological innovation, which promises to not only change the way we live, but completely transform the way we work and do business. The most headline grabbing of these new technologies has undoubtedly been AI. With the home being taken over by AI devices like Amazon's Alexa or Google's Home, it's only a matter of time before AI enters the workplace, and people are questioning when software will make human workers redundant.
But in reality are we really headed for a dystopian sci-fi future where the threat to humanity is on a global scale? Probably not, but AI will certainly impact our working lives as it has our home lives.
We carry AI in our pockets, through our use of Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana, so why are people so scared of this advancement? Could it be because we're already seeing AI performing not only mathematical tasks, like accounting, but also jobs we'd consider more "human", such as writing news articles. We, as humans, have always thought there are some things AI simply can't do, but more and more the scope of AI abilities is changing.
We need to start viewing the human/AI relationship as a friendship rather than a threat, and learn about the technology instead of fearing it.
AI and IT
One of the key sectors where AI looks to be having the greatest impact is, predictably, IT, and consequently those working in the industry are watching the latest developments closely. Some areas of an IT manager's domain are already changing through the use of AI, particularly tasks like desktop support and software testing.
So surely those in the technology industry should be the most concerned, but this isn't the case. While around half of the respondents to our Global Digital Transformation Skills study agreed that AI will have the greatest impact on IT workers over the next decade, they also saw AI as a way to secure their future career.
The majority of respondents (68%) agree that IT teams will require more specialist skills over the next 10 years, with AI deemed the most crucial discipline to master by over half of IT heads.
Technology forms the backbone of practically every business nowadays, so surely if IT professionals aren't concerned then those working in other industries shouldn't be either.
Peace between man and machine
Other sectors should take a leaf out of IT's book when it comes to AI, and see it as a friend rather than a foe. AI will slowly but surely have an impact on many jobs, but rather than completely replacing humans as is often portrayed in the movies, it's far more likely that our job roles will shift dramatically to suitably complement the tasks that can, and will, become automated.
When considering our future job prospects we need to remember there can be no substitute for human intuition when important, life-changing, decisions need to be made. If we look back to 1983, when the Soviet nuclear warning system sent a false alarm that the US had launched an attack and that they should launch a nuclear warhead immediately, it was a human that stepped in. Stanislav Petrov was on duty and rightly, and thankfully, questioned whether the US would have really fired a nuclear weapon.
This only goes to show how important humans are, and will always be. So rather than fearing the machines and behaving like 21st Century Luddites, people need to take action, learn the right skills and push their companies to provide appropriate training to ensure they can work in harmony with AI, rather than against it.