Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

Today we are going to talk about AI (Atificial Intelligence) since it is a very hot topic and we encounter several questions from students about AI.

We will elaborate our answers based on the following:

1) What exactly is AI?

2) How will AI impact the future?

3) How will AI affect my career or job opportunities?

To explain how AI is different from machines that exist today, Let me illustrate a few examples.

Machines are efficient, accurate and consistent. Though humans are inferior to machines in terms of efficiency, accuracy and consistency, we more than make up for it with our cognitive (thinking) capabilities.

What is AI?

Let us say a question is posed to a Human and a Machine, “Can you provide a rough location of the country Israel?”.

Now lets look at the answers by a human and a machine.

Machine – The machine uses geographical data to get the coordinates of Israel in terms of Latitude and Longitude and gives the precise result in a few seconds.

Human – The human brain, on the other hand, does not have access to coordinates unlike a machine. And let us assume that the human has pretty much no idea as to where Israel is. But having seen news on the war between Israel and Palestine and understanding that Palestine is an Arab state, the human understands that Israel must share a border with Palestine, an Arab state and hence must be situated in Middle -East.

So while the machine is very fast and accurate, the human uses cognitive logic to make connections and discover the location. This is what AI needs to be able to do to replicate the human brain. A machine that works like the brain and that can make non-linear connections to uncover new insights.

Let us take one more example.

As kids, we all learn the english alphabets as the first step in our long and tedious educational journey. We are taught letters “a,b,c….z” untill we learn to recognize them anywhere and everywhere.

Now, if a machine were shown the same alphabets, lets say, “a”, would it recognize “a” everytime? Not really ! As long as the “a” is written in exactly the same way the machine was originally taught, the machine would recognize it. However if the shape of “a” is a little more curved or straight the machine would fail to recognize it.

Humans, on the other hand, learn to recognize any alphabet in any shape as long as it fairly resembles the alphabet. The human doesnt need an exact match in shape. This kind of learning comes from experiential learning in which the brain adapts itself to recognize things similar to what it has seen earlier, which machines cannot do.

This is where AI needs to be if it were to be successful in replicating the human brain, not an easy task by any stretch

Now to the next question, how will AI impact the future?

It will take AI a very long time to replicate what the human brain does. And whether AI will accomplish that itself is a big question.

But over the next few years, a lot of mundane, routine and monotonous, non-cognitive jobs will be taken over by AI. Manufacturing jobs, service level jobs, dangerous jobs and labor intensive jobs will be slowly taken over.

On the other hand, high level jobs that require creative thinking, negotiation, leadership, artistic talent, innovation, problem solving, analytical skills, critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills will always require humans.

Now coming to the last question, how will my career be affected by AI?

Let us look at a few careers that will not affected by AI in the near future. Salesperson, pilot or a Designer. If you look at each of these careers they have a unique characteristic related to humans, cognitive thinking which is negotiation for a salesman, situational awareness for a Pilot and creative thinking for a designer. These are all highly cognitive skills and connot be replaced by AI.

So for students, pick each potential career you like and try to evaluate if there are any unique/cognitive characteristics of that career that give you an advantage over a machine. Always pick a career that places a very high importance on an individual’s capabilities and that will ensure you are safe.