July 6, 2017

10 Professions on the verge of 'AI Disruption'

Note: All links in the post are meant to serve as resources for further reading, or to substantiate what’s mentioned in the content.
Fiction and other popular media has already instilled a sense of eerie anticipation among us about how AI would alter the fate of mankind. As per futurist Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity Theory, development in all verticals (including the overall development of the human race) happens at an exponential rate; as we move forward in time along that exponential graph, the rate of development increases as well. One way to cross verify this postulate is by analyzing the frequency of reported milestones. The last couple of years have witnessed some sharp developments in AI which forecast disruption in jobs.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) through technologies like deep learning can ‘self-learn’ from given sets of data and in time gets better at what it does. Currently, it may seem farfetched to imagine the fate of humanity end up like that of The Terminator storyline or even Ex-Machina, yet situations akin to Her (where a human falls in love with a computer OS) could be well around the corner. You may connect the following fact compilations to get a broader and more realistic perspective of a future where AI could impact some of the well-established professions today. AI would soon be a tough entry level competent for job seekers.
1.      Content Writing and Journalism
Sunspring, is a sci-fi short film brought in to the reel by BAFTA nominated film maker Oscar Sharp and NYU AI researcher Ross Goodwin. So what’s the big fuss about the movie? Well the film’s script— which is generally regarded as the framework of any film— was entirely written by an AI bot named Benjamin after being fed the script of dozens of sci-fi movies such as Interstellar and Ghostbusters. Associated Press uses AI to generate summarized reports that data that involves number crunching such as financial data. The achievements of Google’s AI labs include AI that is able to create its own encryption and an exclusive ‘universal language’ (interlingua). Automated Journalism would mean faster data crunching with the ability to cater to targeted audiences.
2.      Web Designers
Those who’ve been fortunate enough to witness the initial waves of internet penetration are have its evolution over the years from a mere portal that hosted textual information to one that’s the life force of gadgets, and capable of enchanting users through its visual and functional appeal. Someday AI could be the life force of gadgets. And as of now, it has already begun taking responsibility of web design as we know it. Tools such as Gridand Wix claim to be powered by AI algorithms capable of creating professional looking websites in minutes. Looking at it from a job security angle might just render worries to web designers. Light-speed time of development, and live review of sites in workshop are some of the selective advantages such tools showcase as their offering’s USP.
3.      Customer Service
Tagging the product offering with ‘Your first digital employee’, tech firm IPSoft offers Amelia, an AI which, as the firm claims, is capable of a ‘wide variety of service desk roles and transforms customer experience’. Amelia’s visual interface is of an elegant office secretary that is more than ready to hear from us through the screen from the other side of the digital world. From an employer’s perspective, Amelia unlike the traditional call center agents who can get weary or proves too expensive to outsource is a boon. This would come as a flag of caution for some Asian cities that are already hailed as ‘outsource capital’ or ‘call center capital’ of the world where voice process are dominant engines of revenue. Digital Genius is yet another company that leverages use of AI in the realm of customer service. A plethora of AI Powered Chat-bot Startupshave come into picture with promising services raging across automated assistance, customer support, recruiting assistant, conversational commerce, marketing and even security operations
4.      Law and Justice
Computers have zero IQ, and it perhaps the most sophisticated tool available to mankind; AI can be regarded as an extension to computers that imparts capabilities of cognitive thinking. BakerHostetler, the American law firm founded in 1916 has appointed ROSS, the AI entity based on IBM’s cognitive computer, Watson. Latham & Watkins, VonBriesen are two other firms who has hired ROSS, as per the product’s official website. Cloud based and spoken language friendly, ROSS, as its creators claims, ‘finds answers form the law in seconds’ eliminating the need for workflow interruption in the name of ‘training session and lectures’. A significant time of the law profession is taken up for research and is often assigned to entry level candidates.
5.      Accounts and Finance Analysts
Michael Burry is a hedge fund manager known for recognizing beforehand, the subprime mortgage crisis that led to the US recession of 2007. He was one among the few people who foresaw impending financial disaster where the majority failed to ‘notice’ it. Talented analysts are thus crucial assets of financial institutions as far as effective decision making is concerned. With that being said, financial institutions such as KPMG and Deloitte have begun embracing AI for analytics. Besides, several banks have already enrolled AI for tasks such as verification, image recognition and interaction with staff (and customers soon enough).
6.      Drivers
Driving requires alertness and coordinated decision making. It is a skill that can only be perfected with practice. Machine learning algorithms (deep learning and neural networks for example) which forms the bedrock of AI aims to do just that: achieve expertise through practice, trial and error. It appears AI is not an exception to renowned physicist Niels Bohr’s quote “An expert is a person who has made the maximum number of mistakes that could be made in a very narrow field.” Google’s self-driving car has as of now has already driven more than 1.5 million miles as its official site states. In what it claims to be a world first, MIT spinoff NuTonomy has already piloted the ‘Public Self-Driving Taxi Program’ in Singapore; a feat which UBER is set to achieve soon.
The concept of autonomous driving as embraced by corporations like Google, Uber, Tesla to name a few use an array of hi end tech like LIDAR and 3D Mapping in tandem with AI technologies. Startups such as five.ai and drive.ai which has recently raised funding in figure of millions specialize in providing AI software for supposed autonomous vehicles which may play a huge role in rendering cars AI compatible. It is already in the agenda of many major car manufactures including Toyota, GM, Volvo and Tesla have an agenda to incorporate autonomous vehicle system in their offerings. In his visionary plan, Tesla CEO, Elon Musk aims to ‘Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning’ and ‘Enable your car to make money for you when you aren't using it’. The AI software which runs atop of Google’s self-driving cars has already been recognized as legal driver according to US vehicle safety regulators.With all that accelerated development in motion, guess who faces the threat of unemployment?
7.      Blue Collar Jobs
Among the working middle class, a rising anxiety towards AI, one that was akin to the Automation Anxiety back in the 1930s is prevalent today, especially when AI has been making extraordinary progress. Looking back at the ways industrial automation impacted the working class of the predominantly blue collar folks, there is assurance that, even with emergence of AI, newer jobs in other forms (or perhaps existing jobs redefined) may come about. Yet as AI enhances automation in the industrial space, a significant proportion of the already lesser-in-number blue collar jobs face the risk of being overturned. General coding, is nowadays perceived as the blue collar job of the digital age. With AI conquering milestones as developing encryption strategies and a language known only to itself, it wouldn’t be so long until AI begins to code for itself.
8.      Digital Marketing
Digital marketing has become the rapidly expanding subset of marketing as a whole, owing to lives going more digital. And AI, in tune with big data analytics and its arsenals of self-learning, speed, work augmentation and predictive decision making capabilities holds the potential to personalize the end user (or target audience) experience which is the perhaps the mantra that marketing as a whole has always strived for. For example, previously mentioned language content development capability of AI could result in the art of SEO being entirely taken over by machines. Besides, Google’s RankBrain is an AI based feature that is heavily used in the company’s search engine. Facebook has already put bots in charge of handling its flagship ‘Trending Topics’ offerings. Human roles or jobs for digital marketing would be reduced to a profile description detailing nothing more than a mere inside sales strategy.
9.      Video-Game Design
Video games have mushroomed to the levels of live tournaments which boasting impressive rewards. The subtle ‘Game AI’ has always been incorporated into video games to achieve responsive game play at par with the human player. AI guided Non Player Character (NPCs) has also had profound and promising impact on gaming experience. In the context of open world games (such as GTA and Skyrim), designers are betting on AI’s capability to create customized characters with an emotional signature based on the player’s performance while dynamically creating new environments and storyline that would immensely impart to replay value.
10.  Sex Work
When it comes to lust gratification, sex dolls have been an option (albeit not widely sought) on the table. AI could give them a revamp, an edge through an emotionally assisting and customizable sex robotPerhaps, only time could reveal on how it would disrupt prostitution with all its good and evil. The oldest profession might as well fall susceptible to technological unemployment. The ethical concerns regarding sex robot initiatives pushes doors to rooms for intense debates.

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