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Ask Arthur: Will AI take my job?

A reader is concerned that new technology will kill his career. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK weighs up the answer.

Q: Will new technology like artificial intelligence kill off my career? I tried to keep up by doing a lot of my work via the Internet, and to use some of the new tools, but it feels like I’m not doing enough to keep my job safe.

A: While AI will definitely automate certain tasks and streamline processes, it’s not as likely to replace entire jobs that have already been leveraging the Internet. You have more to fear from economic downturns than from technology upturns.

The main impact of AI for now will be on jobs that can easily be automated, like tasks and processes that are repetitive and in need of streamlining, or where humans are merely using scripts. AI can quickly replace call centre operators, low-level data analysts and low-level accountants, for example, but that has already been happening to some extent with Interactive Voice Response systems on support lines, and with online accounting, for example.

Jobs that involve repetitive tasks and basic pattern recognition are susceptible to automation.

On the other hand, it can’t yet replace roles that require insight, business guidance, creative thinking and empathy.

It is obvious from these examples that its impact will not be the same across all industries and occupations. The key to job security lies in understanding whether your job is vulnerable to AI and automation, and to work at making a transition to a related role that is not as vulnerable, or upskilling to a role that is unlikely to be susceptible.

These are the most vulnerable:

Task Automation: Your job involves routine and repetitive tasks that can be easily scripted into a computer algorithm.

Data Dependence: Your job relies on basic data collection, analysis, and finding basic patterns.

And these are the least vulnerable:

Human Interaction: Your job requires direct interaction with others, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

Decision-Making: Your job involves with nuanced and context-dependent judgment and decisions.

I asked Google Bard how you should futureproof tour career, and it told me:

Upskill and Reskill: Continuous learning is essential in the dynamic world of work. Stay abreast of emerging technologies and acquire new skills that complement AI, such as creativity, complex problem-solving, and human-centered design.

Specialise and Differentiate: Develop expertise in a niche area that requires human judgment, creativity, and emotional intelligence. This will make you less susceptible to automation and more valuable in the workplace.

Embrace AI as a Tool: View AI not as a replacement but as a tool to enhance your productivity and efficiency. Learn to leverage AI systems to automate mundane tasks and focus on more strategic and value-added activities.

Network and Collaborate: Build strong professional relationships and collaborate with colleagues to adapt to the changing workplace. Networking can open doors to new opportunities and provide valuable insights from others in your field.

Embrace Lifelong Learning: Cultivate a mindset of continuous learning and adaptability. Technology will continue to evolve, so be prepared to learn new skills and adapt to emerging trends throughout your career.

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