Multimedia reporting by Mariah Posey | May 11, 2017
Artificial intelligence is far from being a science-fiction concern. It’s real and according to a May 3, 2017 report put out Pew Research Center, is “eating humans’ jobs talent.” Global consultancy McKinsey reports that as much as 50 percent of the world economy could be affected by automation technologies currently available. That translates to 1.2 billion employees and $14.6 trillion in wages. But, by assessing the future of job skills and job training, more time can be spent prepping for the future of the job market rather than worrying.
“Every job will be affected by artificial intelligence,” said Janna Anderson, director of Imagining the Internet. She added that, “Everybody needs to be a jack of all trades. You need to be able to understand a wide variety of things. It’s not enough to be able to count on Siri or Alexa to answer your questions. You have to be able to synthesize information in a way that provides value for your organization.”
In conducting a survey of more than 1,400 technologies, Pew Research and Elon University’s Imaging the Internet Center found several skills which respondents predicted to be “of most future value.” Of those included adaptability, resilience, empathy and conflict resolution.
Freshman Steven Klausner, an international business and policy studies double major, says that he can see artificial intelligence potentially being a threat to him personally as he intends to work with geopolitical analysis and consultancy.
“AI or any sort of advanced technology, if it gets to the point where it’s advanced enough, will diminish the need for a middle man in between firms trying to decide if it’s safe or advisable to enter a market and the market itself,” Klausner said.
Klausner recognizes that certain skills such as coding and management information may have to be added into core curriculums, but doesn’t feel like anything will ever fully replace human interaction.
“I definitely feel like the ability to be a leader and have leadership qualities and be charismatic are skills that will never go away,” he said. “Even if you do have computers, there’s always going to need to be someone in charge. The ability to relate to a person whether it be personally, intellectually or professionally, that’s just something that’s essential in the work place and in human interaction.”
Sean Walker, Media Services Lead, also believes that neither computers or machines will ever fully replace human-to-human interaction. The ability to be creative, think in real time, and problem solve are area he believes human will continue to dominate, and says that those currently in school should do fine in the job market.
“I think your generation will be fine because in your lifetime, you’ll probably see artificial intelligence doing things for you. I don’t think you’ll see artificial intelligence really replacing humans in the work force. That might take 100 years.”
Timothy Williams, a resident of Roxboro, North Carolina, works at LabCorp and is currently studying mechatronics engineering in school and considers himself a “robotic fanatic.” He thinks basics electrical knowledge will serve anyone will in the future job market.
“Of course you would have to know electronics, at least the basics of electrical circuits and components, period,” Williams said. “On a more advanced note: programming, wiring, manufacturing — all of that plays a part in robotics. But you have to remember that artificial intelligence and robotics in itself are nothing but programs. That program is only going to do what you program it to do. If you program it to do something stupid, it’s going to do something stupid.”
Although Williams hasn’t experienced artificial intelligence replacement personally, he said the possibility does concern him.
“Everything can be a complement, I mean look at computers — they’re complements to our lives because they make things easier,” Williams said. “Technology is here to make life easier, but it still depends on how you use that technology. If a job doesn’t necessarily qualify a human as being adequate for a job, then they should not be in business in my personal opinion. Because if you have nothing monitoring that robot, you’re asking for problems.”
He added that, “Nothing’s better than a human because we learn from our mistakes, robots don’t. They do what they’re programmed to do and that’s it. After that, you can’t expect no more out of it. If they start making mistakes, then where’s the human to fix that?”