Things to Know Right Now about Artificial Intelligence

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Things to Know Right Now about Artificial Intelligence

Keep your recruiting and business development vision clear by understanding the direction and growing impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on the economy.

We talked earlier about innovations in AI that will certainly displace jobs.  In October, a report from the White House took that conversation further, laying the groundwork for regulatory and industry support of rapidly coalescing advancements in AI.

Developed with interagency effort, the findings follow an outreach effort by the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), including requests for information and public workshops hosted by research and other institutions.

A couple of things to understand about the White House report

AI is defined in several ways. But we might loosely consider it to be systems that act, think, perceive, and choose like humans. Narrow forms of AI are already built into gaming, medical diagnostics, and commercial applications like product recommendations.  General AI is a term used for a system able to perform and perceive essentially like a human.

The broad scope of the report addresses regulatory concerns using examples from aerospace, like drones, and transportation, such as automated vehicles (AV).  It also addresses governance, and global considerations for security and international cooperation.

Some comments on the current and future workforce in the report include:

  • The report speaks to the need for development of a skilled workforce with interdisciplinary experience in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM fields). The report defines three types of skilled workers—researchers, specialists, and users.  These would be workers capable of driving, refining, and using new technologies.
  • The report urges research interests and universities to develop and support a skilled workface capable of creating and utilizing innovations in AI. Continued maturation of machine learning and AI will drive technological advancement into the marketplace. Employers with highly skilled developers and in-demand applications will profit and grow.
  • Noting a lack of gender and racial diversity in the AI workforce, the report draws a comparison to the generally low representation of women and minorities in STEM fields. In 1984, 37 percent of computer science graduates were women, while today that figure is just 18 percent.

The report goes on to suggest AI should be developed for all constituent groups. This can be more readily accomplished if all constituent groups are a part of its creation, refinement, and use.

In discussing the outright impact of AI on jobs, the report finds …”AI has the potential to eliminate or drive down wages of some jobs, especially low- and medium-skill jobs…”

Recognizing the impact, the report recommends the Executive Branch prepare and publish a follow-up report on the effects of AI and automation on the U.S. job market by the end of 2016.

Thoughts on the incursion of AI into the workforce 

In remarks by Jason Furman, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisors, in July of this year, Mr. Furman commented on the potential impact of AI on the current job marketplace:

  • AI could “contribute to further erosion in both the labor force participation rate and the employment rate.”
  • To allay concern for unemployment caused by AI, effort is needed to identify skills, provide training, and job matching for workers displaced by technology.
  • It is a given that some workers will not have training or ability to find new jobs in an economy powered by AI innovation.

Automation, machine learning, and AI will drive significant market and workplace change in the relatively near future.  Business adaptation to AI and the development of competitive future vision is essential to the commercial survival of any organization.

The likely success of an organization—and any employee—will likely turn on adaptability, a characteristic of future proofing we discussed earlier.

Current take-aways on AI in the U.S.

In a nutshell, at the federal level, current thinking includes these points:

  • Encourage development of innovation and research with AI
  • Provide regulatory oversight without stifling innovation
  • Ensure educational institutions and organizations are working to develop a skilled workforce, with an emphasis on STEM fields
  • Evaluate the impact of AI on the current job market
  • Realize AI will emphasize and widen current income inequalities
  • Emphasize skill development, job matching, retraining, and help with job placement

AI and automation are driving deep paradigm change in global and national settings.  Stay ahead of the curve by assessing developments and transforming your business plan—and workforce—to remain relevant and competitive.  We’ll keep you posted.

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