15 Oct 2021 18:32 IST

AI and future of work

AI and ML are horizontal technology that finds application across industries in every sector.

Which job profile or domains will be the most affected after the intervention of AI and other similar technology in the near future? - Harsh Pratap Singh

Artificial Intelligence is a horizontal technology. It means that AI applications are nearly everywhere. For example, AI will make its way to different functions (such as marketing, finance, HR, supply chain, IT, and customer support) and will be used in different sectors (such as banking, insurance, retail, manufacturing, healthcare, government, defence, and media).

Five years ago, as the current wave of AI was beginning, there was a lot of anxiety about widespread unemployment that AI will cause. But now such fears that AI will replace humans in different professions has given way to the understanding that AI will play a supporting role and augment humans in their work.

But the job content for existing roles will change. Repetitive work, rules-based and standardised work (which is a good chunk of a lot of desk jobs) will be farmed off to AI. We will continue to drive creative work and work that involves a lot of human interactions.

AI will be embedded into the software and devices to provide contextual intelligence. While there will be new products and tools, a large part of this will happen via existing platforms and products. For example, ERP software like SAP, cloud software like Amazon Web Services, productivity software like Microsoft Office, digital assistants from Google and Apple will include the relevant AI capabilities to make us more productive. In that sense, AI will be a feature, rather than a separate category as it becomes more widely adopted.

Let me also say that we are still in the very early stages of AI and the AI-led digital transformation of industries and functions will play out over a long horizon of 10-20 years. At present, only a few technology companies have implemented and benefit from AI at scale. So, there will be time for employees to equip themselves with future-ready skills.

New technologies create new categories of jobs. Web, mobile, social and cloud have created new job categories that did not exist 20 years ago. Similarly, AI will create new job roles also. For example, AI brings in some new risks, to provide oversight and monitor them, AI auditors will be needed.

There will be other niche roles, but the biggest opportunities lie in building the AI systems because AI is not going to build itself! There will continue to be great demand for professionals with software engineering skills, expertise in data and statistical methods and finally, domain knowledge. You simply cannot build good AI systems without domain expertise, however smart technically you may be.