Even if your career survived offshoring and the Great Recession, now’s not the time to get complacent: a report
from the World Economic Forum predicts that automation and artificial intelligence (A.I.) could eliminate as many as 47 percent of jobs in the U.S. in coming years. Martin Ford, a software developer, entrepreneur and author of “Rise of the Robots,”
is one of the Paul Revere-esque prophets sounding the alarm about a jobless future. “There’s a huge number of jobs at risk, even highly-skilled jobs,” Ford said. “We’re going to feel the effects within five years, and we’ll be fully into the age of A.I. in 10 to 15 years.” While there’s no “magic bullet” that will protect every human job, taking these proactive steps can better position you and your career to survive a takeover by the machines.
Flee Endangered Jobs
If your job is centered on repeatable, predictable tasks, it’s only a matter of time before an algorithm will be able to perform part (or all) of your daily routine. If your technical knowledge can be transferred to a software platform that leverages machine learning, your current position is likewise a candidate for the endangered list. For instance, some 60 percent of the professionals surveyed by Tech Pro Research
said they are already automating tasks such as OS setup and deployment, system monitoring and user account management. If predictions hold true, most help desk and production coding jobs could also end up replaced by computer labor. George Zarkadakis, digital lead at Willis Towers Watson and author of “In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence,”
suggested in an email that he expects coding jobs to mutate into deep neural network
training jobs as machine learning takes hold. For tech pros whose jobs fall into any of the aforementioned categories, voluntarily transitioning to another role within your company may be the best way to stay one step ahead of A.I.
Transition Into a Human-Oriented Job
As it stands, machines are incapable of mastering human analytics, collaboration, creativity or emotional intelligence. So if you want to stay in a tech-related field, transitioning into a creative, diverse or multi-disciplinary role that requires human interaction can help you maintain a steady paycheck. Roles that are most likely to survive include project managers, process designers and technical architects, as well as professionals in creative fields such as web and mobile app designers. Given the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), designing connected products or becoming a UX guru is another option. Security experts, business analysts and DBAs are also in good shape. Negotiating a lateral move into an industry that will be highly impacted by A.I., such as transportation (including self-driving cars
) and manufacturing, could provide on-the-job training and transitional opportunities going forward. Many businesses in those categories are already considering how A.I. will affect their business, and adjusting their training and management programs accordingly.
Join the A.I. Movement
Before you start panicking, the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is expected to create jobs, as well. But if you don’t have a computer-science degree, you may need additional training and education to cash in on the A.I. revolution. Experts foresee an increased demand for algorithm experts, procedural architects, data scientists and Big Data analysts, as well as engineers who specialize in machine learning and A.I., deep learning or computer vision. To position yourself favorably for a job in A.I., you’ll need a firm understanding of probability and statistics, calculus, linear algebra, discreet mathematics and algorithm theory. Depending on the role you want to pursue, knowledge of neural networks, robotics and advanced signal processing may also prove helpful. “Being flexible and open-minded is critical,” Ford said. “Because the job you’re doing today may not be around in a couple of years.”