The booming growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), like most transformational technologies, is both exciting and scary. It’s exciting to consider all the ways our lives may improve, from managing our calendars to making  medical diagnoses, but it’s scary to consider the social and personal implications — and particularly the implications for our careers. As machine learning continues to grow, we all need to develop new skills in order to differentiate ourselves. But which ones?

It’s long been known that AI and automation/robotics will change markets and workforces. Self-driving cars will force over three thousand truck drivers to seek new forms of employment, and robotic production lines like Tesla’s will continue to eat away at manufacturing jobs, which are currently at 12 million and falling. But this is just the beginning of the disruption. As AI improves, which is happening quickly, a much broader set of “thinking” rather than “doing” jobs will be affected. We’re talking about jobs, that, until the last few years, we couldn’t imagine being done without the participation of an actual, trained human being.  Jobs like teacher, doctor, financial advisor, stockbroker, marketer, and business consultant.

There are just a lot of things that machines can do better than human beings, and we shouldn’t be too proud to admit it.  Many skilled jobs follow the same general workflow:

  1. Gather data
  2. Analyze the data
  3. Interpret the results
  4. Determine a recommended course of action
  5. Implement the course of action

We can look at any number of occupations to see that this holds true.  Doctors perform tests, analyze the results, interpret the results to make a diagnosis, plan a course of treatment, and then work with the patient to make this treatment plan a reality.

Financial advisers gather and analyze data about their clients and potential investment vehicles, interpret the implications given a variety of factors such as risk tolerance, recommend an investment strategy, and help their clients carry this strategy out over time.

Business consultants do much of the same, but diagnose and solve business problems.


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