46% of executives anticipate that AI will be their greatest areas of investment in the next three years.
Prior to AI overtaking our headlines in recent months, we usually thought of AI in the format of robots.
• Gort, from the movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still
• WALL-E (WALL-E): WALL-E is a waste-collecting robot left on Earth after humans have abandoned it due to excessive pollution
• R2-D2 and C-3PO (Star Wars series): R2-D2 is a droid, while C-3PO is a protocol droid skilled in translation and etiquette
• Terminator: portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, The terminator is a self-aware and sentient cyborg assassin sent from the future to eliminate the mother of a future resistance leader.
You see, the problem with AI is that most sci fi films have painted them in only one format: highly intelligent, highly sentient, highly dangerous pieces of hardware and this is what’s creating so much anxiety on the topic, that one day, they’ll be smart enough to destroy us.
The truth is, if you have touched Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon, Spotify, you have already been using AI and integrating it with your everyday life. The only difference is what type of AI you interacted with. Have you played chess on your computer or dialed a customer service line and went through a phone tree? Then you’ve interacted with reactive machines. Have you ever watched a movie Netflix suggested, sat in a self-driving car, accepted an autocorrect or used a spam filter? Then you’ve interacted with Limited Memory. If you’ve talked to Siri or Alexa, or played ChatGPT lately, you’ve interacted with Theory of Mind. If you know about the movie Her where Joaquin Phoneix’s character falls in love with OS system, you have seen the Self Aware machine played out.
Starting in Nov 2022, with the launch of ChatGPT, the world has turned its attention to something called generative AI, Generative AI models learn the patterns and structure of their input training data and then generate new data is similar. Today, you can ask ChatGPT to write you a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, write a rap song, or write code. Need images? Now you can ask Midjourney and DALL-E to generate images for you by simply entering a prompt. There are popular powerpoint generators too, such as Gamma and Tome. Need to create a video but don’t have the budget to hire a model? D-ID and Synthesia are apps where you can generate an avatar of yourself and ask the avatar to speak in whatever script and language possible. Since Jan 2023, 7000 tools have been launched in the spaces of copywriting, image creation, content generation and chatbots.
So this begs the question, how can we prevent ourselves from being replaced by robots? You might have seen a meme of the future company org chart, where the CEO is a human. But the CFO, the CMO, the CSO – they’re all ChatGPT. That will largely remain a joke for years to come because although ChatGPT is able to pass MCAT exams and the bar, Gen AI still has many faults. For example, AI Is prone to hallucination. When I asked ChatGPT who is the sole survivor of the Titanic, it gave me a pretty logical sounding answer. It gave me a name and the background of this person. But in reality, there were 700 survivors in the Titanic. AI is also biased. When I said to DALL-E, give me an image of a scientist, it showed me 4 suggested photos with male scientists. When I asked it to give me a photo of a secretary, it gave me 4 photos of females.
What is undeniable though, is that companies are demanding new skillsets. Today, we value numerical literacy, analytical thinking, data interpretation, and you see the highest salaries associated to software engineering and data science. In the future, there will be an increase in demand in soft skills. Last month, Linkedin came out with a report saying that 70% of executives believe that soft skills are more necessary in the future vs hard skills. This makes sense because all you have to do is look at the development of AI. Remember those examples I said earlier, those are all in the realm of narrow AI, rule-based systems with constrains set by humans, and is unable to improve itself. Right now, we’re entering General AI, where AI can be as smart as humans. It’s sort of like the age old question of would you rather be a specialist or a generalist? Well in the world of AI, it’s much easier to build a robot that is a specialist, than a generalist. So the skills of cognitive flexibility, digital literacy, creativity, emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence are all vital skills that are needed in the future. These are all skills that is hard for AI to completely replicate.
What’s undeniable though is that companies are looking for AI-related talent. A report by LinkedIn says that job descriptions that include Chatgpt and prompting has increased 21 times in the past year.
My advice is try to think about your job not as a title but as a series of tasks, high level tasks and low level tasks. Then think about what AI tools are available now to take over those low level tasks that you can outsource, this is where you can begin to implement AI to take over some of those tasks, making you much more productive as an employee.
Perhaps what is the most important skill is the skill of learning. Our degrees used to last us decades, now, there’s no degree that will last you for a decade. By the time you graduate and start using the degree, you might realize that a supplementary certificate is needed. Before, you can copy paste job descriptionss because the skills never changed. In the past 8 years, job description skills have changed by 25%. In the next phase, skills change by 65% and will only continue to change even more in the future. But if you’re a fast learner, you’ll be ready for whatever disruption that is coming our way.
Now, as an HR professional, you might also be wondering how to use AI in your daily job. 80 percent of the global 2000 organizations will use AI/ML-enabled “managers” to hire, fire and train employees. Stack ranking is a statistical approach that compares employees’ performance against each other. After analysis of staff performance, stack ranking software recommends that underperforming individuals take additional training, advise managers to do intervention or, worst case, lay off people who fall below the threshold of acceptable performance.
What about L&D? Just as how personalization has disrupted ecommerce, it can do the same for L&D. For example, Siemens tied their 50,000 employees to skill graphs and personalized each employee’s learning plan. Through this method, they were able to build a much more agile workforce, with each employee able to focus on exactly what they needed for themselves.
Lastly, I know it might exhausting trying to keep up with the thousands of tools developed everyday within the AI space. Today, there’s a new imaging tool, tomorrow there’s a new translation tool. The innovations are endless! But a lot to keep up with. We call this AI fatigue. It’s sort of similar to how we have been addicted to our phones and social media. The best way to cure AI fatigue is to not drink from the fountain hose. Instead of thinking you have to keep up with every latest and greatest tool released, focus on your objectives. Before implementing any AI solution, have a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve. Avoid adopting AI just for the sake of it. If you’re working on retention this year, focus on the tools that will help with that KPI. Forget the other things. Next, practice incremental Implementation. Instead of overhauling entire systems at once, consider implementing AI technologies incrementally. Start with pilot projects to test and refine solutions before a full-scale rollout.
1. We are years away from achieving Super AI capabilities we see in movies. Sci fi hypes up the space. You won’t be replaced by robots, but instead by someone who knows about these tools, so the best step is to get informed about this space. Read books, hire speakers, enter into discussions! The more immersed in it you are, the more you will know how to decipher between reality and hype
2. Think of your job not as a title, but as a series of tasks: Focus on skills that AI can’t replace. And start to implement AI to outsource the parts that you can. E-readers didn’t kill books. 3D printers haven’t printed cars or houses, yet. NFT’s didn’t kill physical art. Although this change might take some time to be digested, eventually, we will all be integrating AI more and more into our workflows.
3. Here’s how to deal with AI fatigue. Instead of thinking you have to keep up with every latest and greatest tool released, focus on your objectives. Before implementing any AI solution, have a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve. Avoid adopting AI just for the sake of it.
The things is, jobs have always been changing. We used to have switchboard operators, travel agents and expert typists. Today, those are all jobs that have been replaced by different technologies. And you might have heard this before: that it’s not the AI that replace the humans, it’s the humans who know how to use AI that replaces the ones who don’t.