Though some predictions about automation paint a bleak future, others offer a more optimistic outlook, predicting that technological innovations will create up to 21 million jobs.
In fact, artificial intelligence will create more jobs than it eliminates, according to a 2017 report from Gartner. And most of these jobs will be concentrated in the healthcare and education industries, predicts Avi Goldfarb, coauthor of Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence.
There will be a need for people to build artificial intelligence and people to control the machines and their output. Even human-centric position in fields like nursing will require an understanding of new technologies and AI, says Goldfarb. For example, elderly patients living at home will need nurses to help them understand and use the robots that remind them to take their medicine or go for a walk.
“The most valuable combinations of skills are going to be people who both have good training in computer science, who know how the machines work, but also understand the needs of society and the organization, and so have an understanding of humanities and social sciences,” Goldfarb argues. “That combination, already in the market, is where the biggest opportunities are.”
Goldfarb offers several tips for helping today’s college students prepare for a career in the age of automation.
1: Don’t discount the humanities
Machines can take care of narrow, repetitive tasks, but they’re not good at thinking creatively. And only humans can decide how to apply AI.
2: Encourage interdisciplinary study
Studying multiple disciplines makes students more flexible, argues Amir Orad, CEO of Sisense.
“Our tradition of schooling from the Industrial Age makes you really, really good at one thing,” Orad says. “I think that’s very dangerous for the next generation.”
3: Keep up with the latest technology
Goldfarb and Orad agree that we can’t predict how automation will change the job market. They recommend that students keep up with both culture and technology. “Fifty years ago, the idea that people would be social media marketers wasn’t imaginable,” Goldfarb notes.
Both experts suggest that students should experiment with digital tools, like the latest social media platforms or video editing apps (Reader, Fast Company, 6/27/18).