Whether or not you believe that artificial-intelligence platforms such as IBM’s Watson will become economic game-changers in the next few years, it’s undeniable that a lot of tech pros are doing serious work—and making serious money—in A.I.
Although A.I. is a hot field for technology workers, entering it requires a great deal of specialization. Interested in designing autonomous robots? You’ll need a background in engineering, robotics, and coding. Want to research how to make cloud-based software platforms like Siri? Get ready to spend a lot of time studying everything from cognitive science theory to neural nets.
Rather than go back to school and re-tool your entire career, those interested in working with A.I. can determine how the field overlaps with their existing skill-sets. Here are some examples of how that might work:
It’s intimidating to ask a robot a question, especially if you don’t consider yourself very technology-savvy. If the wildest prognostications of technologists become a reality, and artificial-intelligence systems evolve into the backbone of the modern office environment, there will be a rising need for tech professionals who can teach people how to interact with this new generation of silicon-based brains.
“Just teaching companies how to use A.I. will be a big business,” Diane Greene, head of Google Compute Engine, recently told The New York Times.
That vision hinges, however, on A.I. becoming truly mainstream, rather than a specialist’s tool. And before that can happen, tech companies still need to conquer a variety of challenges related to artificial intelligence, including flawless speech recognition. For those tech pros who already manage and educate, though, A.I. could present some interesting possibilities (and challenges).
The rise of artificial intelligence hinges on Big Data, and the ability to input, store, and analyze massive datasets at a high rate of speed. Behind every Google Now or borderline-cognizant enterprise platform, there’s a giant database. So if you’re a tech pro with a background in Apache Hadoop and other data-centric technologies, you’re well-positioned for a supporting role in A.I.
There’s every possibility that more and more devices—from cars to fridges—will become “smart” in the next few years. Tech pros who specialize in sensors and hardware could find themselves in much demand as this “Internet of Things” economy takes off, even if they don’t have anything to do with the software or cloud components of it.