Investment in Artificial Intelligence has grown in recent years following advances in Deep Learning, graphics processing power and the wider adoption of open source technologies in businesses. The internet has been a major contributor to the growth of AI datasets that are needed to train neural networks. AI already plays an important part of lives today from job searching, social media, shopping online, down to the maps we use to find our way while driving.
Businesses are increasingly applying narrow forms of AI or automation to their workflows (AI that is trained for a specific task). The compounding effect is the way people work is expected to change significantly. There are pros and cons of introducing automation to a business process, researchers argue businesses should refine a workflow before automating it to reap the benefits. Inevitably this will mean human workers roles will change. There are advantages to this, the human worker may find automation will free up time for more unique complex tasks that keep them engaged. The current generation of AI is suited for repetitive tasks that often bog employees down from what people may consider ‘more meaningful work’.
It does however mean the current generation of workers may have to retrain to adapt to a new role in their organisation. Or if the organisation automates the entire workflow they may become unemployed. Workers from a non-technical background could struggle to adapt in this circumstance and may require assistance in retraining for a new role.
Leading analyst studies have identified that AI is expected to create more jobs than it replaces, however it will create a cultural shift on the types of skills that will be desired in a post-AI world. We will be living in an augmented intelligence world where we will collaborate alongside AI/automated systems. This can make us more efficient in the work we do.
China’s large trained workforce has enabled it to become one of the main manufacturing hubs of the world. It’s government has invested on massive infrastructure projects. It has become a proponent of AI and is introducing AI into many aspects of public interactions (some of questionable ethical use) and is described as an AI Superpower comparable to US tech companies (according to Kai-fu Lee, former President of Google China).
The Paper, a China news agency announced China’s Education department has planned a 10 volume series of AI textbooks for Chinese primary and secondary school students.
Translation of the article: “The first set of artificial intelligence textbooks in the country will enter Elementary and High Schools next year, and will be welcomed by students in Shanghai” – The Paper – Han Xiaorong (20/11/2018) – Source: https://thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_2652113
It demonstrates that China recognises the changing nature of work in the post AI age and is investing in it’s younger generations to make them competitive in the new age of AI and they will be more prepared than those that didn’t benefit from such training. Although I don’t agree with the way China chooses to apply AI technologies on it’s citizens I do believe AI will affect the way people work all over the world.
In the rest of the world we are not taught AI until later in our education (usually University). To make sure our future generations are prepared for working alongside AI systems and robotics. Our education providers need to evaluate what the future of work will look like and begin leveraging emerging technologies e.g. AI, VR, AR as part of the syllabus. All countries should evaluate what can be done so the adults of tomorrow will have an opportunity to succeed and no one is left behind in this fourth industrial revolution.