The pandemic is speeding up the roles automation and artificial intelligence (AI) play in the workplace.
As an August 2020 Time magazine article reports, the deployment of robots as a response to the coronavirus has been rapid.
What are the jobs or career paths people should consider if they want to AI-proof their job prospects as much as possible?
While it is true AI is changing the face of the job market, the future isn’t as bleak as it is sometimes painted to be. As several professionals from a variety of industries say, there are many options for people seeking AI-proof jobs and career paths.
“AI has been taking over a lot of jobs around Wall Street,” says Brian DeChesare, of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. “But AI can’t make friends. AI can’t network.”
DeChesare says jobs in sales, financial advising and consulting are examples of positions that require close human interaction — and therefore, safe from being taken over by AI.
In a positive take on the arrival of AI, Chris Laan, founder of Designer Sheds, says workers should embrace the shift to AI. “An algorithm is only as good as the data it receives — you’ll always need people to analyze, label and interpret the data that goes in.”
Darrell Rosenstein, founder of The Rosenstein Group, also says that many careers in the tech sector are poised to grow rapidly in the coming years — especially those in development, machine learning, network security and IT.
“No matter how complex technology becomes, there will always be a need for people who are able to build, maintain and improve it,” Rosenstein says.
John Li, co-founder of Fig Loans, says the biggest takeaway is that people should adapt as much as possible to the technologies being implemented in their industry of choice.
“Systems are depending on AI, but integrating the human aspect along with these advancements would put you ahead of any automated implementation long term,” he says.
Automation-proof career options
“Careers in marketing and writing will probably stay human-based,” says Mark Perlman, founder of TheDealExperts. “There doesn’t seem to be an influx of robots creating content in the marketing realm yet, so you should be safe with any type of creative job.”
Certified human resources consultant and career coach Ricklyn Woods points out that HR and safety and risk professionals have been on the front lines during the pandemic, “ensuring that organizations are compliant with the ever-changing COVID-19 guidelines and serving as the conduit for communication between employers and employees.”
“There are many different types of roles within human resources and safety and risk management,” Woods says. “And there are numerous certifications available that can help individuals gain knowledge and credibility in both fields.”
“If you’re worried that your job will be replaced by robots, you may want to consider a career related to social work, including counseling and therapy,” says Ian Wright, CEO of Bequests. “These jobs require empathy and building relationships with people, which are essential for providing emotional support to patients or trauma victims.”
“Licensed professionals such as physicians, dentists, attorneys and certified public accountants will still need staff that understand specialized requirements that cannot easily be replaced by robots/AI,” says attorney Jessica Smith Bobadilla.
Wright also points out, “While AI will help professionals like physicians, nurses, dentists and psychiatrists carry out their jobs, it won’t replace them because the medical industry requires compassion in providing health care to patients.”
AI infused in everything
AI and COVID-related robots were among the top trends at the virtual 2021 CES gadget conference.
Technology to battle the coronavirus is big on the virtual show floor this year. Several companies are showcasing disinfecting robots. LG is introducing an autonomous UV-C light robot designed to irradiate viruses on heavily touched surfaces. (Largely unmentioned is the fact that COVID is largely transmitted by airborne vapor droplets, not viral smears on surfaces.)
To that end, LG is promoting a wearable air purifier and a portable air purifier that you can use to purify air in a car or office. They both have fans and HEPA filters. A smaller company called AirPop debuted the Active+ Smart Mask, which monitors your breathing and the quality of the air around you.
Meanwhile, several companies are offering “touchless" appliances and fixtures. Kohler and Toto are showcasing touchless sinks and toilets that automatically turn on and off or open and flush by waving your hand in front of a sensor or using a voice assistant.
Each year, big TV makers display the dazzling technology that could eventually come to your home TV set, though generally not soon.
In addition to the yearly crop of ever-bigger, brighter and sharper TVs, LG Display is showing off a “smart bed" that includes a 55-inch transparent TV that rises from the bed frame. Another version of the transparent TV is designed for restaurants, so customers could browse the menu and watch a chef prepare food behind it at the same time.
LG has also announced a bendable version of a 48-inch display that can curve on demand — a feature designed for gamers.
After years of telecom companies promising new superfast 5G wireless networks, 5G will actually be here in 2021.
Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg delivered the CES 2021 kickoff keynote all about 5G and what it can offer for telemedicine, distance learning, and other uses. He gave examples of projects Verizon has been working on, including virtual tours of Smithsonian exhibits, virtual reality science lessons for students, and drone deliveries by a UPS pilot program of medicine and other deliveries, all powered by Verizon's 5G network.
On the last day of CES, Samsung will debut its new 5G enabled iteration of its Samsung Galaxy phone — an event that isn't affiliated with CES but still likely to draw buzz. In between, expect plenty of demos and panels about uses for 5G in phones and beyond, such as in cars and smart cities.
Future of work
Many of us have now had almost a year of experience adjusting our home office setup and are painfully aware what works and what doesn't.
Companies are touting devices and accessories to improve working from home and help make people more productive. For example, Dell is offering a video-conferencing friendly monitor that is easy to adjust and swivel to get the optimum angle for video calls, complete with a high resolution webcam.
A company called Shure is promoting a microphone for the home office designed to enhance speech audio quality for video conferencing.
And Targus is offering a suite of products for remote or hybrid work: a UV-C LED light that sits on your desk to disinfect electronics, an antimicrobial backpack to carry around work tablets and laptops, a tablet cradle workstation and a universal phone dock.
CES is a major showcase for the newest in electric cars and autonomous vehicles.
GM CEO Mary Barra delivered a keynote Tuesday on the future of its car brands and electric vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz is showing off its AI-infused “Hyperscreen," a display that extends across the entire width of the dashboard. It can be voice-activated and lets the driver and front seat passenger do everything from make calls to activate a seat massage.
Fiat-Chrysler is offering interactive, three-dimensional virtual tours of its cars and technology. It also worked with Google to create an augmented reality model of its Jeep Wrangler 4xe hybrid you can see on your phone.