What you need to know about AI-proofing your career

The rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) has disrupted the status quo across many industries, prompting demands for strong regulatory oversight.

AI is a branch of computer science concerned with building systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as learning and performing creative tasks. While this may seem exciting, there is also cause for concern.

Some leaders have embraced the development of AI, citing a powerful group of tools that could help optimize their organizations. Others, though, have decried the new technology, fearing that it could lead to known and unknown hazards. These hazards involve threats toward many jobs as AI has transformed numerous industries.

What are the risks of AI?

One of the main concerns is that AI will eliminate jobs. To many, this concern is understandable. Earlier this year, CNN published Goldman Sach’s report warning that as many as AI could replace 300 million jobs in the near future.

To Ryan Hamilton, a software developer from Ontario, another key consideration is task elimination.

“Not just jobs, but also job tasks,” Hamilton explained. “Anything that is repetitive and computer-based can be replaced.”

Some of these fears are warranted. In May 2023, AI eliminated nearly 4,000 jobs in the United States, according to a report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Future layoffs are not far behind. Tech industry leader IBM announced it will eliminate nearly 8,000 jobs and replace them with AI in the next few years.

Which industries are AI-proof?

According to Hamilton, the most guaranteed way to ensure job stability is to pick an industry that AI cannot eliminate. “AI tools don’t have hands, so anything hands-on and skill-based is very safe,” he said.

Examples of these job fields include the agricultural industry, the skilled trades or kitchen industries. The common theme, Hamilton explained, is that they are all heavily reliant on human hands performing labour.

Can’t work in the trades? Consider health care.

Though more traditional trade jobs are some of the safest from AI-related job loss, not everybody can work in these fields for various reasons. If someone cannot work in these fields, they can consider another role that requires human hands in some way.

“We keep hearing all the time how massive and in-demand health care is,” Hamilton said. “A lot of those roles require a human touch.”

Nursing or paramedicine, for example, requires constant use of a worker’s hands. Other examples of AI- proof fields include medical device reprocessing, respiratory therapy or radiologic technology.

Work repairing technology

“Regardless of any new tech implemented, there will always be a need to repair that tech,” Hamilton said.

According to the Government of Canada’s labour market research report, computer repair technicians are projected to have good job prospects in Ontario over the next few years.

Artificial intelligence will require computers, servers and other related technology. By embracing this fact rather than fighting against it, there may be opportunities to gain employment.

“It’s not just computers either,” Hamilton explained. “Anything that is technology and breaks down requires technicians to repair it.”

Biomedical engineering technology is one example of a promising and AI-proof employment opportunity. A biomedical engineering technologist will spend their workday repairing and installing medical technology. The Government of Canada lists the job prospects of this role to be good in most regions across Ontario.

Work alongside AI

Despite all the concerns about the advancement of artificial intelligence, there may be chances to grow and work alongside it rather than against it. This could include using it to automate specific mundane day-to day tasks or working to stay on top of the rapid technology growth by helping to create new tools.

“At the moment, replacing computer programming jobs just isn’t possible,” said Hamilton. “Lots of software [developers] use AI tools now in our coding, sure, but all of the creative thinking and artistry and outside the-box thinking? I don’t think AI can replace that.”

What industries are vulnerable?

With the rise of artificial intelligence, it is crucial to consider which jobs AI can automate or eliminate.

An article published by Forbes in March 2023 reports that jobs in finance and banking, media and marketing and legal services are the most at-risk. According to Forbes, these fields are at-risk, because they rely on analysis and writing – tasks which future AI technology can entirely automate.

According to Financial Post, many tasks associated with knowledge workers are at risk of AI automation. Knowledge workers use their knowledge to provide advice and decisions across many industries. These roles are at risk because AI can generate specialized, bespoke information for anybody with a query. Further versions of AI tools expect to grow this ability, meaning their capabilities for supplying knowledge will only increase.

Ultimately, Harris wants to offer anyone experiencing anxiety over AI’s transformative impact on jobs a reminder: “It definitely is a new landscape, but it doesn’t mean there will never be jobs again. We just have to adapt to these new tools.”

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