There’s no question that AI has been growing in influence over the past few years, and in recent months, things have gone to the next level. The world, and the tech landscape within it, is drastically changing – there’s no doubt that AI will be a pivotal player in the way we as a society operate for years to come. 

AI – The Concept

The concept of AI still seems like a relatively new one, with a fully autonomous machine-led society still considered a possibility as a far-away futuristic premise for many. However, the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ itself was coined way back in 1950 by John McCarthy, and it’s been provoking serious thought, and – in some cases – concern, ever since. 

It’s safe to say our perception of the concept has gone through the motions over the past few decades, from the machine coup of ‘iRobot’ in 2004 to the sinister intentions of the AI ‘Ava’ during 2014’s ‘Ex Machina’. Today, we’re seeing automated weapons, self-driving cars, facial recognition, and more previously deemed other-worldly concepts shape the world as very real things indeed. 

Put simply, AI was created, and is designed, to improve human life, but that can only be achieved if it’s being utilised responsibly, and with pure intention. We’re already being warned of the potentially catastrophic consequences of misused and biased AI from many of today’s leaders, including Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. 

AI and machine learning may be making life easier for some, but when does convenience become too convenient? And when does it begin to pose a risk to our employability? 

We’ve already seen a decline in certain positions across sectors such as retail, leading to less roles and more redundancies. And, with the almost endless prospect of what capabilities AI could enable, it does pose the consideration as to whether it will actually be beneficial for the current everyday worker, or – on the other hand – damaging. 

World Economic Forum

According to many organisations, including the World Economic Forum, the workplace of the future will require new skills and an in-depth understanding of the current unknown. Through an analysis of 228-million job ads across the US, the Burning Glass Institute and the Business-Higher Education Forum concluded the fastest-growing and highest-demand skills desired by employers are AI and machine learning, cloud computing, product management and social media. 

Amongst those, AI and machine learning are the skills developing at the quickest rate, growing by more than 370% over the past five years. And, according to a 2022 survey conducted by Gartner, 64% of IT professionals highlighted a skills shortage in these areas as the biggest roadblock for the utilisation of defining technologies such as artificial intelligence. 

In the report presented by the Burning Glass Institute, it was determined that business, educators, and civil society must ensure future generations, as well as Gen Z, are equipped with the insight and knowledge to thrive in the rapidly evolving digital economy. 

But that’s not to say they’re solely accountable… we also have a responsibility to make sure we’re putting ourselves in the strongest position for the future. If we’re not clued up, we’re at risk of being left behind. The world is moving forward at an unprecedented pace, and – as prospects – it’s time to move with it.

The Future?

AI leaves us with more questions than answers at this moment in time. The more it’s developed, are we less likely to be as skilled – and, in effect, desirable? Or is it something that will compliment our life, both professionally and personally, for the better? Is it really working smarter, or is it in our best interests to continue working harder? Well, that’s something only you can decide. 

Regardless of how you might feel about AI and machine learning, it’s safe to assume they’re here to stay. 

By James Cummins & Gabriella Wieland