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Rise of Artificial Intelligence : the threat of jobless future through reskilling and upskilling.

The rising new era peeking through our horizon, emitting powerful beams of a promising future – is indeed “Artificial Intelligence” for our upcoming generation. This can be either for our best or for our worst, such is claimed by the world renowned theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking.

While his statement does put us in a tight spot thinking about what’s yet to come, we are again posed with the statements made by other pioneers in this field such as, Bill Gates about being worried about the threat posed by Artificial intelligence. So, are we going to fear this technological advancement which would someday bring us immense laurels, or are we going to conquer the horizon and make it a “powerful child of the human mind”? Well, that is exactly the question our approach to “reskilling” and “upskilling” is going to answer.

First off, what is Artificial Intelligence?, in simpler language,if we ever hope to deliver to our population the real message. AI is simply the ability by which smart machines exhibit ‘sensory’ or ‘cognitive’ functions that humans are inherently born with. Perceiving a problem, attempts at solving it are the milestones our scientists have achieved along the way.

What we need to focus on now, are the ever-growing worries, harbored by the vast working population of India regarding the effect of technologies like AI on their work in future, and most of them do have a strong basis.

What are the “Challenges” that we face today?

Unsurity. According to the publication of the Forbes, about 47% of jobs fall into the “high risk” category,are the most vulnerable to the phenomenon of “automation”. “The Economist” also adds that the figure might vary as these things tend to be influenced by other factors as well, such as the industry’s budget, regulations, political opinions and professional takes on the matter and of course, social resistance.

Amidst all this, also keeping in mind the loss of around 600,000 jobs to the AI, as a consequence of “automation”, can we really sit around teaching our youth (which is yet to enter the job market) and the existing practitioners the existing set standard knowledge? Or is India ready for a glamourous update of its own?

Can we hope to tackle the situation? If so, how?

The only fear we have is not being “competent” enough in professional practice as the AI robots. As they are being enhanced every passing moment by an amazing human brain out there, and here, we feel hopeless about the future. Can we be “competent” enough too? The answer to that is a big loud “Yes!”

“Reskilling” or upgradation of the one’s who have already set forth in their journey in the world on technological innovations – will help them not only to come across new ideas hence developing R&D, but also help them to reduce the degree of “vulnerability” that their job might face some day, if they do not equip themselves with the latest trends and stay in touch with the current happenings in the buzz of AI town.

HOW? Promoting the formation of new technological courses that will enable the existing individuals to upgrade their knowledge and stay on par, and creating new platforms to encourage them to make known about new discoveries and areas of interests pertaining to Research and development; are the stepping stones to bring back the enthusiasm in the existing individuals and boosting up their morale. The reskilling will also add on the approach and quality of work these professionals invest in not just their work, but also research.

On the other hand, “Upskilling” is an approach mainly aiming at the “grassroot level”. This involves teaching the students in todays world the skills that will equip them for their future. The whole idea of this is based on the retrospective sense – because today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. Establishing state of the art colleges and research centers or educational institutions to nurture these young minds and guide them in the right direction is what “Upskilling” aims for. The skills in Computer science around a couple of decades ago are no longer of immense importance as they were at that time. New futuristic innovations hence need to be integrated into today’s learning experience.

AI is everywhere. There’s no backing out now, only charging into the system with full force. Alexa, Google Smart Home, Self driving cars, Smart Navigation systems, Apps which are personalized for giving us the best experience, Vehicle booking apps, recommendations, and other futuristic innovations are not a thing of the future anymore.One of the many reasons that we need to look forward to developing AI is its application in the healthcare industry. When trained by experts to do so, they will detect minor changes in the radiology imaging that normally physicians might not notice. The use of AI is predicted to cut down medical costs, leading to more accurate diagnosis – wouldn’t that be a charm? Another future use for AI include “Brain-computer Interfaces (BCI)” which are predicted to help those with trouble moving, speaking or with a spinal cord injury, hence using AI to help patients move and communicate by decoding neural activities .This was an eye opening point made during Mr. Anant Maheshwari’s talk – Innovation at its peak! Which also highlighted the importance of AI as in the welcoming windows of Microsoft. Pharmacogenomics enabled specialized individualized medicine was the central attraction of AI-Enabled healthcare as demonstrated as a part of “Imagining a perfect world” – A part of Dr. Sangita Reddy’s address at a recent Patient Safety Conference. So many oppurtunities! Yet, we’re still scared?

Is There any hope for Indian hands shaping the AI?

Keeping in mind that the giant, Amazon announced earlier that it will invest $700 million in order to train about 100,000 workers in the US by 2025, which will help take up highly skilled jobs, I say – “Yes. We do stand a chance.”

This can be further cemented by stating according to The New York Times that -with this initiative, Amazon is acknowledging that” advances in automation technology will handle many tasks now done by people.” And yet, the investment it had made towards upskilling and reskilling its employees further proves that there is absolutely no room for fear of losing your jobs to these machines, rather you will be required to use your hands to create brilliant masterpieces with the knowledge you keep on “polishing”, and thus, breathing a new life into the future, for AI learns by looking at human culture. And we Indians can do that.

So fellow AI enthusiasts, the power of knowledge will surely come to the one who is willing to yield it. Conquering incompetency with upskilling and reskilling is indeed the way ahead! For AI doesn’t over power you, but rather you power the intelligence behind the AI.

- Maryam Maqsood