AI Skills of the Future: Understanding AI and How to Make it Work for You
Artificial Intelligence allows organizations to increase productivity, scale their business, and work cost-efficiently while at the same time giving business leaders, teams, and individual employees a chance to maximize performance and unlock their true talents. But what exactly is the impact of AI, both on modern-day life and the work floor? What opportunities does it offer on an organizational level? What (new) mindset, competencies, and future skills are needed to make it work? In this article, we’ll explore the transformative technology of AI, plus its impact and potential – now and in the future.
- Intro: This is How AI Makes Life Easier
- Understanding AI Technology
- Examples of AI in Business
- AI impact on the Workplace
- AI and the Skills of the Future
- Trends in AI at Work
1. Intro: This is How AI Makes Life Easier
Without us always realizing it, artificial intelligence – or AI for short – is increasingly influencing our daily lives. From our smartphones and GPS systems to the personalized movie and music recommendations that Netflix and Spotify come up with: it’s all based on algorithms. Every time you ask Alexa to turn off the lights or talk to a customer service chatbot about your missing parcel AI is the technology that makes that possible. A smart thermostat that turns off automatically when you’re leaving the house, or an AI scheduling assistant to optimize your busy agenda for you? It’s the result of the merger between AI and the Internet of Things (IoT), which allows networks and devices to learn from past actions and predict future activity.
AI is all around us, and we can hardly imagine our lives without it anymore. But the examples mentioned here are just some relatively straightforward AI applications. Tech giants have been investing heavily in next-generation AI technologies like self-driving cars, which can potentially turn the transportation world upside down, and smart healthcare solutions that are said to revolutionize medical science in the coming years.
New kids on the block
Then, there’s Chat GPT, which has been taking over the internet by storm these recent months. This online AI model uses deep learning techniques to generate human-like responses to text-based input. It can be used for many different purposes, like answering complex questions, generating a social media post, or even writing a pretty good poem. And that’s just the beginning, as companies like Google are continuously developing AI application ideas and will soon launch even smarter AI-powered chatbots, like Bard: another new AI kid on the block. Locking horns with its competition, Microsoft recently announced plans to redesign its search engine Bing with a series of AI tools.
Because of their easy accessibility to the public domain, these AI models are considered game changers in the world of technology. They have the potential to reset the way we live and work, putting AI in the hands of the masses and making it mainstream. In the long term, they will even change the bottom line of a significant number of industries and professions. In other words, artificial intelligence and its impact on society is profound, and researchers and developers are continuing to push the boundaries of what is possible with this technology.
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So is AI taking over the world? Will robots replace our jobs? To answer these questions, it is important to understand what AI is, what we can expect from it in the near future, and how to use AI technology to our advantage.
2. Understanding AI Technology
Delving into the subject of artificial intelligence, we must distinguish between intelligence and consciousness. Although related, they are not the same things. A highly intelligent being can exist without being conscious, and vice versa.
- Intelligence is the ability to learn and apply knowledge and skills, process information, make decisions, and solve problems. It can be measured and studied through various tests and assessments
- Consciousness, on the other hand, refers to the awareness of your surroundings, thoughts, feelings, and sensations. It allows you to reflect on your own behavior or that of others, and to make ethical judgments. Consciousness is a complex phenomenon that is difficult to measure, quantify or define and has been a topic of philosophical debate for thousands of years
At its core, AI is about simulating ‘natural’ intelligence in machines and computer systems that are designed to think and act like humans. These machines can be programmed to perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing patterns, learning from experience, and making well-informed decisions.
The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.
Edsger W. Dijkstra, Dutch mathematician and computer scientist
Types of AI and how they are applied
AI includes a wide variety of components, techniques, and subfields, such as machine learning, deep learning, algorithms, voicebots, chatbots, natural language processing, and semantic analysis. The world of AI is constantly evolving, so it’s hard to say which AI is the best. However, AI has enormous potential, and the types of AI in business are widespread. They vary from consumer-oriented solutions to improve customer satisfaction to complex industrial AI use cases, like robotic vision predicting when a machine needs maintenance. In terms of the employee experience, AI can improve HR processes like talent management, performance management, and L&D – ultimately freeing time up for people to work on higher-level, more creative, or strategic activities.
Our research shows that AI can increase productivity by 40% or more. Through data collection, automation, decision-making, and cybersecurity, it has the potential to boost profitability rates by an average of 38 percent by 2035 and lead to an economic boost of US$14 trillion across 16 industries in 12 economies by 2035.
Accenture Report: How AI boosts industry profits and innovation
Are supercomputers smarter than humans?
To a certain extent, human intelligence is limited. Even the brightest geniuses can be surpassed by AI, as the example of Garry Kasparov shows. In 1997, IBM’s chess-playing computer Deep Blue made history when it beat the reigning world chess champion. The match represented an important milestone in artificial intelligence development and demonstrated supercomputers’ growing capability to solve complex problems and make intelligent decisions. Now that was almost three decades ago – just imagine the AI levels of intelligence we have access to right now. But although Deep Blue and its ‘offspring’ are undoubtedly brilliant, these machines are not conscious – nor can they simulate consciousness. Or at least, not yet.
The most disruptive discovery of humankind?
Here are some other interesting facts about AI:
- AI has been around for decades: the concept of artificial intelligence has been around since the 1950s, and the field has been actively researched and developed for many years. However, it is only recently that AI integration has reached a tipping point and become more widespread due to rapid advances in computing power and machine learning algorithms
- AI is probably the most disruptive discovery in the history of humankind: Google CEO Sundar Pichai claims that the impact of AI will be even greater than that of fire or electricity on our development as a species
- Chat GPT has broken all world records: two months after its introduction, the AI tool reached 100 million users. No other consumer-oriented application has ever seen this fast and massive adoption before
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3. Examples of AI in Business
Undoubtedly, many of today’s businesses are applying AI on a large scale. Healthcare, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and financial services: it’s just a few examples of industries using AI to optimize supply chains, automate resource-intensive tasks, identify potential sales leads, detect fraud, and make precise estimates and decisions based on for instance financial data – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As the corporate world is rapidly embracing and implementing AI, it is giving rise to all sorts of disruptive business solutions. AI is already a cutting-edge technology, but some of these applications are particularly creative and groundbreaking. The continuous development of these applications by a growing number of AI providers will push the whole field of AI into the future, making it relevant to more and more industries and enterprises.
Examples of industries using AI in innovative ways
- AI equipped with language processing and visual recognition can optimize the retail experience by personalizing marketing efforts, while predictive analytics can help retailers forecast demand and optimize their inventory management. Additionally, AI technology can help reduce costs associated with hiring and training staff
- Example: Amazon Go is a new type of physical store that has no cashiers – now that in itself is nothing new – but also no self check out. Deep learning algorithms, combined with computer vision and sensors, automatically detect when items are taken off the shelves and added to a customer’s cart. Shoppers simply walk in, pick the product they want, and walk out again. The receipt is sent to their Amazon account
- The financial industry is known for being an early adopter of artificial intelligence technology. AI can analyze financial market data in real-time, identify and predict trends, help businesses stay compliant, detect fraud, and improve customer service
- Example: JP Morgan Chase & Co. has over 240,000 employees who used to spend hours and hours on mundane tasks, like interpreting commercial-loan agreements. That became a thing of the past when the bank implemented a machine learning model called COIN, that reduced the time spent on this work from 360.000 hours to just a few seconds
Innovative AI use cases on an organizational level
- AI can help HR departments recruit, hire, manage, and support their people more efficiently. It can give valuable insights into historical trends and people analytics like retention rates, turnover rates, salaries, and sick leave. It can personalize social benefits based on employee profiles, identify talent, match employees and external candidates with career opportunities, etc.
- Example: when faced with challenges in their hiring process Unilever implemented AI-powered video interviewing called HireVue, which reduced costs and time associated with the hiring process, enabled more objective interviews, and identified top candidates better and faster. The platform also provided a more engaging experience for candidates
Learning & Development :
- By leveraging AI, L&D departments can improve the impact of training. It can help identify skill gaps and suggest targeted training programs to fill them, adjust the difficulty of a test based on a learner’s performance, give personalized feedback, and analyze training data
- Example: Lepaya applies immersive learning with Virtual Reality and AI Coach in our Power Skills programs, to help employees train their social or presentation skills. All these possibilities allow for adaptive, realistic, and high-level learning experiences
4. Impact of AI on the Workplace
AI technology is affecting the Future of Work and changing the structure of the workforce on a profound level. According to the World Economic Forum’s “The Future of Jobs Report 2020”, robotics, automation and AI could replace 85 million jobs worldwide by 2025. And if that still sounds like a science fiction scenario to you: just think how the COVID-19 pandemic showed us how quickly robots and automation filled in for human workers to mitigate health risks and meet workforce shortages.
A new world of job opportunities
However, while some jobs will be entirely lost to technology, the benefits of AI in business go beyond improving productivity and decision-making processes. In fact, the same WEF report states that this so-called ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ – an era marked by the rise of new technologies – is also bringing a whole new world of job opportunities with it. By 2025, the future tech-driven economy is expected to create 97 million new jobs – many of which will be in the tech industry and healthcare. As a result, Human Resource departments are expected to be in increasing demand for positions in areas such as cloud computing, cloud engineering, data science, and AI safety engineering, but also in the field of mental health and other specialized health services.
Findings from our 2021 survey indicate that AI adoption is continuing its steady rise: 56% of all respondents report AI adoption in at least one function, an increase from 50% in 2020.
McKinsey global survey on the state of AI
5. AI and the Skills of the Future
With so many new jobs and the emergence of AI on the work floor, the required competencies and skills are also changing – faster than you think. Future forward companies realize that this era of technological and digital transformation requires employees’ continuous upskilling and a culture of lifelong learning.
So what skills are needed in the future? What competencies do business leaders need to be better equipped to implement and leverage AI within their organizations?
Interestingly enough, communicating and collaborating effectively with AI is not so much about learning new technical skills. Digital literacy skills for the 21st century include much more than being tech-savvy. Knowledge about working with technology, learning how to use AI in digital business environments and overall AI literacy are all necessary, but we must also look at behavioral skills:
- Employees need to learn how to adapt to constant change, collaborate in teams, take ownership, and understand how they can communicate their ideas in an authentic and inspiring way. After all, there’s still a long way to go before AI can develop unique ‘human skills’ and emotional intelligence
- Business leaders in particular, should develop their skills of managing change within the organization, as implementing AI solutions can require significant disruptions to business processes, employee roles, and the overall company culture
In the meantime, with a looming global skills shortage, businesses need to step up their game and prepare their employees for the future. Education and training are crucial ways to ensure their people are ready for what’s to come. That’s why they should focus on skills building and training their employees to perform different tasks in their current roles or move to other positions through internal mobility programs.
87% of executives and HR managers face or expect to face a major skills gap, where employees lack the skills they need to perform their jobs well in the near future. In the past, their skills were valid for about five years, but now many of those skills are outdated after only a staggering two years.
A 2020 McKinsey & Company study
Closing the talent gap is critical to an organization’s success, and understanding how to use AI gives you a significant advantage over your competitors.
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6. Trends in AI at Work
Finally, let’s look at some AI trends that will influence the Future of Work and transform the way that organizations operate.
1. Better decision-making in business processes
The advantage of AI over the human brain is that AI can process endless amounts of information in just a millisecond. Now with self-learning algorithms getting better and better, AI can be involved in making crucial business decisions as well. Ultimately, it will still be the C-suite who makes the final call, but they will base it on data sorted and analyzed by AI.
According to a global AI survey conducted by Accenture and Forbes Insights among over 300 AI leaders and CIOs, 79% report that analytics plays a major or central role in their organization’s AI efforts.
2. Tech experts expect a rise in “intelligent augmentation”
The concept of “superteams” comes in – groups of people and robots working together to solve complex problems, gain insights, and create new value and meaning. Robots and humans will team up to get things done faster and better.
3. HR as an ambassador for AI
According to a 2020 Deloitte study, “59% of organizations say redesigning jobs to integrate AI technology is important or very important for their success over the next 12 to 18 months, but only 7% say they are ready to address this trend.”
To fill up this so-called ‘readiness gap’ HR has the opportunity to lead the way and show just how valuable it can be to truly embrace AI. HR leaders can become advocates for strategic change, paving the way for other functions to follow. Companies are already seeing the benefits of using AI in HR tech, with advanced data analytics and machine learning solutions employed in areas such as recruitment, onboarding, training, and the entire employee journey.
At Lepaya, we help organizations adapt to the Future of Work by creating a culture of continuous learning. We build stronger teams and inspire future leaders, for instance by offering innovative learning experiences with VR Training and a dedicated AI coach.
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