The reality of Artificial Intelligence (AI) today differs wildly from the man-hunting machines we envisioned 20 years ago. What is AI today? And is it really anything to be afraid of?

 

Some 20 years ago, talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) conjured up images of humanoid robots of superior intelligence and strength. Philosophical questions regarding the true definition of what constituted life followed, with striking images of an all-out battle between man and machine. We would most always lose those wars. Films and books have taught us to dread the AI.

 

But those fears have not come to fruition. The AI of today is a beast of different make and model – a monster, which lives in colossal databases, feeding on data. This day and age spews out a deliciously vast amount of data every second. The AI beast can consume as much as it wants, learning more as it does.

 

Google defines AI as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

 

It is everywhere. AI powers our mobile phones. It brings smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home to life. It “lives” in computer programs like IBM’s Watson and Google’s AlphaGo. The innocuous devices sit and listen all day, now as common place as any appliance.

 

We are no longer concerned AI will one day rise and enslave mankind, and we shouldn’t be. We should be aware, however, of its potential impact on labor.

 

Researchers at Oxford recently conducted a study to observe the future of the labor market in relation to trends in computerization. The scientists observed 702 detailed occupations across all industries and found 47 percent of jobs to be at high risk of computerization. Professions like machinist, engineering technicians, librarians and telemarketers may be some of the first to go. These weren’t just the entry level jobs either. Every industry is expected to feel the impact. A  similar study conducted by Gallop found Millennials were most at risk.

 

In both studies, those expected to keep their jobs were people in leadership positions and, believe it or not, creatives. Not just artists, but those with the creative problem solving unique to the liberal arts and humanities are expected to be in increasing demand. The demand is projected to be even higher for those with both creative and technical skills, Amazon’s Senior e-Book Content Producer Amanda Koster told Forbes. If you need more proof, some companies have even created specific onboarding tracks for soft science grads.

 

The labor market has changed considerably over the last century, and it certainly isn’t about to normalize now. Change is the constant. As always, to remain relevant workers need to keep up with the trends, whatever they may be.

 

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