There can be no doubt that a revolutionary new artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet information era will dramatically disrupt many traditional occupational career fields in ways that will favor some employment and entrepreneurship opportunities to the distinct detriment of others.
College applicants and their family mentors are well advised to seriously think about which career paths are most vulnerable to obsolescence prior to investing lots of tuition money and formative lifetime years on inconsequential courses and dead-end diplomas.
Self-learning A-I driven computers are advancing very rapidly.
By 1997 they were better than humans at chess, ten years later they were better at driving cars than the average teenager, and they are now better at playing at Chinese game Go, rated 300 times harder than chess.
In the medical field, writer Alex Williams pointed out in a 2017 New York Times article "Will robots take our children’s jobs?" that while radiologists in New York typically earn about $470,000 per year, a start-up called "Arterys" has a program that can perform a magnetic-resonance imaging analysis of blood flow through a heart in just 15 seconds . . . compared with 45 minutes required by humans.
Williams also noted that robots already assist surgeons in removing damaged organs and cancerous tissue. In 2016, a prototype robotic surgeon called Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) outperformed human surgeons in a test in which both had to repair the severed intestine of a live pig.
According to Williams, any job in the legal field that involves lots of mundane document reviews (what lawyers spend a lot of time doing) is vulnerable. Software programs are already being used by companies including JPMorgan Chase & Company to scan legal papers to predict which documents are relevant, saving lots of billable hours.
Kira Systems, for example, has reportedly cut the time that some lawyers need to review contracts by 20 to 60 percent.
Big banks are now using software programs that can suggest bets, construct hedges and act as robo-economists, using natural language. According to Bloomberg, BlackRock, the biggest fund company in the world, has announced replacing some highly-paid pickers with computer algorithms.
Researchers at McKinsey & Company, a leading business consulting firm, have projected that a continuing employment need will exist for human cognitive abilities.
They conclude in a 2017 report titled "Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: What the Future of Work Will Mean for Jobs, Skills and Wagess," that workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of, such as managing people, applying expertise, and communicating with others.
Conversely, workers will spend less time on predictable physical activities and on collecting and processing data, an arena where machines already exceed human performance. The types of skills and capabilities required will also shift, requiring more social and emotional skills and advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity.
The McKinsey & Company researchers also determined that as a greater percentage of populations live longer, significantly larger new demands will result for a range of health care occupations, including doctors, nurses, nursing assistants and technicians, and personal home-care aids.
New careers and jobs will be additionally be created in technology development and information services. While this will be a relatively small number, compared, for example, with employment in healthcare and construction, they will more typically be higher-wage occupations.
Online skill training and secondary education programs will greatly reduce the need for teachers and college professors over time. It is plausible that children today will receive their undergraduate education largely online, and at much less cost.
In his March 27 Forbes.com article "Why Robots Will Not Take Over Human Jobs," business consultant and writer Andrew Arnold emphasizes that, above all, those entering the workforce today will have to be adaptable.
Arnold wrote, "They’ll have to be hungry for knowledge and committed to continuing education whether that’s by taking an online MBA, attending conferences, reading books, consuming podcasts, or taking advanced degrees."
Individuals must also face a harsh reality that the idea of a "job for life" is becoming passé.
Midcareer retraining will become ever more important for successful career changes in response to special skill mix demands. As technology moves forward, workers will need to develop new technical skills and to keep those skills updated — including accomplishing this through on-the-job training programs.
Although there will always be a demand for adaptable and versatile human labor, workers everywhere will need to rethink traditional notions of where they work, how they work, and what talents and capabilities they bring to that work.
There are also no reasons to believe that artificial intelligence will replace the need for creative thinking, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork, and personal initiative.
Far more likely, we humans can — and must — leverage technology to provide a smarter and better world.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of several books, including “Thinking Whole: Rejecting Half-Witted Left & Right Brain Limitations” (2018), “Reflections on Oceans and Puddles: One Hundred Reasons to be Enthusiastic, Grateful and Hopeful” (2017), “Cosmic Musings: Contemplating Life Beyond Self” (2016), and "Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom" (2015). He is currently working on a new book with Buzz Aldrin, "Beyond Footprints and Flagpoles." — Click Here Now.
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