Robots are not stealing your jobs! They're generating more!
It is November 2017.
Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO, is unveiling a prototype called the ‘Semi’, an electric semi-truck with 500 miles of range. "Every truck we sell has Autopilot as standard," Musk says - and within weeks, this statement snowballs into articles, blog posts and videos of how AI would replace truckers all over the world. Union leaders, politicians and tech evangelists all chime in with their doomsday predictions. Then comes the first run: in 2021, a TuSimple driverless truck eases out of a rail yard in Tucson, Arizona, and travels to a distribution facility in Phoenix without any issues. Truckers lose their sleep. “Am I next?” Many of them wonder.
Cut to 2023, and truckers haven’t been ‘replaced’ by autonomous computer algorithms. The ‘Robocalypse’ that pundits predicted isn't anywhere now. Despite the development of powerful AI systems that can draw, write, create videos, understand gene sequences, diagnose diseases, and do other tasks, demand for human workers still continues to increase.
As a result, the general apprehension surrounding AI is transforming into curiosity and a desire to incorporate these extraordinary tools into existing job roles. More people believe that the debate should not be about AI vs. humans, but about AI + humans.
New technological insights are telling us that there will always be sectors and industries where humans will be indispensable. AI is not intended to replace humans, but rather to collaborate with them to create new job opportunities or explore previously uncharted dimensions in existing roles.
I am not ashamed to admit: AI tools are super fun to use! From asking ChatGPT many weird, complex questions to giving Stable Diffusion art prompts to generate mind-blowing artwork, these tools have opened up dimensions previously deemed impossible. But this got me thinking: how can I harness this incredible power of AI tools into my day-to-day work?
AI’s impact on the job market
The World Economic Forum predicts that the rise of AI will create approximately 97 million jobs by 2025.
Employers expect that by 2025, increasingly redundant roles will decline from being 15.4% of the workforce to 9% (6.4% decline), and that emerging professions will grow from 7.8% to 13.5% (5.7% growth) of the total employee base of company respondents.
Experts anticipate that the job opportunities enabled by AI will further increase this number. The impact of AI on jobs will vary depending on the industry and individual roles. One thing is certain - machine learning and computer algorithms will disrupt our traditional approach to work.
Currently, many industry leaders acknowledge that there is a significant skills gap in the job market. As automation replaces many traditional jobs, being AI-aware has become a top priority. In other words, the more skilled you are in AI, the more earning potential and recognition you can receive.
O’Reilly’s 2021 Data/AI Salary Survey found that professionals who spend between 1-19 hours upskilling earn an average of $7,100 more than their peers. Those who spend 100 hours or more upskilling earn $11,000 more. Additionally, AI jobs are still considered niche and face less competition compared to traditional jobs.
Before we set sail for our AI upskilling, let’s find out the jobs that AI is already creating:
AI Prompt Engineers 🤯
Be it ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion, or DALL-E - AI tools transform text inputs, or prompts, into meaningful results. The machine learning model that runs these AI tools needs to get trained on prompts. This way they can identify keywords in inputs and create desired outputs.
This is where AI Prompt Engineers are pivotal - they design and create prompts to train AI models on. Text-to-Text or Text-to-Image AI Prompt Engineers transform the oft-disorganized data pool to create a prompt-based, high-quality training dataset. It is then fed to the AI models. AI prompt engineers are earning upto $150k a year in the current market. In comparison, a regular engineer's salary ranges from $70k-$100k a year.
Data sourcing analysts, Annotators, and Detectives 🎯
As AI models continue to evolve, it is becoming challenging to feed them with relevant data on an ongoing basis. This makes the role of a data-sourcing analyst or annotator crucial. These positions may be more accessible for individuals without a technical background to transition into. Interestingly, analysts project that the global data annotation tools market will experience a CAGR of 26.5% between 2023-2030.
On the other hand, the role of a data detective requires specialized knowledge of statistics, data algorithms, and modeling/scrubbing technologies. It is more suitable for a technology professional. The data detective analyzes data patterns generated by AI tools and translates this knowledge into actionable insights. It can inform an organization's growth strategy.
AI Engineers, Developers, and Specialists ✨
Who creates these AI tools anyway?
LinkedIn’s 2020 emerging job report listed AI Specialists as the fastest-growing job in the US. It is growing 74% annually over 4 years.
Robotics and NLP Engineers 🤖
The first keyword that anyone says when asked about AI: “Robot”. Naturally, jobs related to robotics have seen an increase in demand as AI tools have proliferated.
NLP focuses on analyzing and processing both written and spoken language. Think of Google Assistant, Siri or Alexa - NLP engineers use AI models and machine learning algorithms to develop speech recognition for these assistants.
Augment AI in your job through upskilling 🚀
It is 2015, and CNBC’s Elizabeth Schulze is shaking hands with a robot. "Hi I'm RoboThespian," the humanoid robot responds and shakes its head as a human being would do. The scene seems surreal, and in some ways, scary. But the video does end on a familiar note. "These guys are making things a lot uncertain," Elizabeth says, "but one thing that's clear is skills training is required if we hope to get along with friends like them in the workplace".
She is not wrong. Although efficient automation is more likely to impact mundane and repetitive work, not all industries will get affected. Additionally, humans are unlikely to get surpassed by AI in judgment. Hence, humans will create more jobs than AI will negatively impact.
It is essential to start viewing AI as "augmented intelligence" rather than as an adversary. This shift in perspective will enable us to see AI as a valuable tool to make our jobs more efficient, error-free, and better.
To upskill, individuals should first determine whether they want to move to an AI-focused role or enhance their current role with cutting-edge AI technology. With well-guided training, individuals can learn to harness the power of these tools and algorithms, potentially earning higher salaries and industry recognition.
In 2023, an AI professional in the US will earn $149,527 per year on average. For experienced AI workers, the salary tops at a whopping $200,000 per year, while AI freshers can earn up to $115,000. This is significantly better than other technology sectors.
AI: the job market ‘enhancer’
In popular culture, AI and robots have always been portrayed as the ‘bad guys’, but are they? Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, arguably one of the greatest minds of our generation, called the fear that AI would replace humans 'Luddistic'.
“We have been programming machines for decades to do whatever we want them to do. Computers beat us in chess, in jeopardy - but that did not end the world.”
2022 marked the year when AI gained mainstream prominence. It challenged long-held beliefs that automation would only impact low-level jobs. However, despite the concerns and fear, there is a growing consensus that humans and AI can coexist. Data shows that industries such as truck driving, once thought to be among the first casualties of automation, are thriving.
Furthermore, companies are creating new niche job roles that require upskilling in AI, making it a hot topic in today's industry. LinkedIn's emerging jobs report shows AI practitioners like ML engineers, ML researchers, and AI specialists are the fastest-growing digital transformation jobs in North America.
To keep up with the AI wave as a professional, upskilling is the key. Don’t wait till everyone around you becomes ‘Robotruckers’. Instead, learn new AI-focused skills and get ahead of the game. If T-800 could do it, so can you!
Read about recent developments this week in AI, here.