Riding the AI Wave: Skills you Need to Succeed in the Coming Job Market
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It’s not unusual anymore to hear of Artificial Technology defeating humans in chess, ‘Go’, and even at being a radiologist. The development of AI, therefore, has begun to cause some alarm as doomsday-esque predictions about the technology replacing all working humanity abound.
While there is a lot that remains unclear about what our future with AI, one thing is abundantly clear — AI will not replace humans, but the nature of our work will change. Automation will allow tomorrow’s workers to focus on higher-value activities and create amazing new opportunities in fields of AI programming and application.
Here are some skills we can pick up that will enable us to harness AI to make our lives easier and make us more productive at work, while opening up new doors and opportunities for our careers.
Initially, computers had to be explicitly programmed to enable them to perform a function. This meant that they were unable to learn and be dynamic, which prevented them from being ‘intelligent’ in any meaningful sense of the term. However, as software and technology evolved, computers became better at spotting patterns and overcoming their static program instructions by making data-driven predictions or decisions – essentially, enabling them to ‘learn’ over time and improve.
Machine Learning is the study and construction of algorithms that can learn and make predictions based on data through building a model from sample inputs. Acquiring this skill will enable you to make machine learning models and master the same technology that runs Google Search’s suggestions and other new-age technology solutions.
Neural networks – software inspired by and mimicking the structure of neurons in the human brain – have led to a quantum leap in the processing power and mental agility of computers and software. Deep learning algorithms (basically, software that leverages neural networks) can classify and detect patterns in images or data at a stunning level of complexity consistently, getting even better at it over time. Deep Learning software is at the heart of such amazing applications as Google’s speech recognition and translation software, that has enabled the creation of real-time language translation and is poised to remove linguistic barriers to communication within a generation.Deep Learning software is also central to the best examples of AI present today (like Google’s AlphaGO and IBM’s Watson), and being a Deep Learning proficient programmer will open doors in cutting-edge technology applications across industries.
While Machine Learning and deep learning are applications of AI-driven software, AI-driven systems carry the capacity for a variety of other practical applications. Even shorn of these machine and deep learning, AI-driven software carry the potential to effectively undertake tasks that are currently being done by humans, but would be better suited for computer systems, like repetitive calculations, classifications, and data analytics. Algorithms can perform an immense number of calculations and classify massive amounts of data almost instantaneously, making sense of an unending array of numbers in a matter of seconds. With AI skills, you will be able to automate daily tasks, run simple analytics on collected data, and save your valuable time for more abstract and strategic thinking.
With the focus being on AI-driven software, robotics have been less discussed, of late. However, there is nothing that carries quite as much potential as the prospect of an artificially intelligent physical being performing tasks and applying its incredible processing power to do the physical labour we require to have a perfectly ordered society. Robots of the future are likely to take over much of mankind’s menial and perilous tasks, leaving humans free to do more abstract and artistic work. Robots have already played a massive role in streamlining and optimizing industry and mass-manufacturing; but these applications were, for the most part, just the tip of the robotic iceberg. Expanded usage in fields such as warehousing by companies such as Amazon, and in education by EPFL for teaching children how to write, showcase the prospects of this paradigm-altering technology.
With the likes of Uber, Tesla, and Google pushing hard and fast in trying to develop self-driving cars, the road is wide and endless with opportunity. Self-driving cars and the technology that will drive them are going to take traffic accidents from being one of the top 10 causes of human deaths globally to a miniscule factor, as software uses its infinitesimal reaction time to control vehicles and remove human error from the equation. Enhancing mobility for millions and removing such archaic restrictions as driving licenses and tests (a relief for many, one imagines) would improve the lives of many millions of people, over and above removing a cause that takes over a million lives every year across the globe. The software and hardware that underpins self-driving vehicles are easy to learn and apply and the opportunities available will put you at full-speed ahead on your career growth path.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Technology that mimics and tries to be indistinguishable from reality is something that we’re familiar with on the screens of our televisions and devices already. The amazing graphics and effects found in various movies and television shows have now evolved into a realm of possibilities where looking at a store in real life could create a pop-up in your vision itself about the products and services in that establishment, along with ratings and reviews from other users. Virtual and Augmented Reality technologies are graphical constructs that complement your ordinary vision, and have found deployment in such gadgets such as Microsoft’s HoloLens and the Oculus Rift. While VR and AR goggles are becoming more and more common, these devices could aid the visually impaired, provide suggestions and guidance to the normally sighted, and make being lost a problem of the past.
These are cutting-edge skills for state-of-the-art technologies that are still exploring the full gamut of their applications, with many new avenues still unexplored. However, many are wary of learning these skills due to what they imagine to be their complexity and the inaccessibility of these skills.
Fortunately, there are institutions that offer holistic and career-oriented educational programs that can aid anyone with an analytical or logical worldview to access these amazing technologies and put them in prime position to utilize these skills for the job market of tomorrow. With dynamic and flexible online learning options, you can balance your current employment while you learn the skills that will help you overtake your peers and become a leader at the workplace. So don’t tarry too long – AI is coming, and you’d better put yourself in the driving seat of a self-driving car you design to ride into the future.