Will machine learning save your job… or kill it?
According to a new study by research firm Gartner, artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning may vaporize 1.8 million jobs by 2020—while creating 2.3 million new ones. Where you fall within that kill/create schism depends largely on your industry: healthcare, education, and the public sector may enjoy gains, while manufacturing could see a “job crash.”
For those working in the technology industry, the changes could prove sweeping. For years, pundits and analysts have predicted that machine-learning algorithms could eventually take over a variety of tasks currently performed by tech pros, including cyber-security monitoring and low-level programming. While an A.I. platform taking over those tasks may free up companies to focus resources on more creative pursuits, those who currently do those jobs may need to think about how they’ll evolve in coming years.
“Now is the time to really impact your long-term A.I. direction,” wrote Svetlana Sicular, a Gartner research vice president. “For the greatest value, focus on augmenting people with A.I. Enrich people’s jobs, reimagine old tasks and create new industries. Transform your culture to make it rapidly adaptable to A.I.-related opportunities or threats.”
Indeed, artificial intelligence may end up supplementing—and in some cases, replacing—human managers. In theory, an algorithm can analyze data and decide how to best allocate resources and people, potentially leading to a reduced need for layers of middle management.
Those interested in working with A.I. should explore the necessary skillsets and programming languages, including machine learning, Python, and R. There are also a number of degrees and micro-degrees that can prepare you for what’s coming. By 2021, Gartner predicts, “A.I. augmentation” will generate some $2.9 trillion in business value, along with 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity.
“Augmentation,” of course, will free up some tech pros from repetitive tasks—but could represent a career-ender to others. The sooner you adapt to the coming A.I. paradigm, especially on a skills level, the safer you’ll be.