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The Rise of Artificial Intelligence—And Its Impact on Work.

The topic of AI (artificial intelligence)—more specifically generative AI—is becoming more mainstream, as both consumers and businesses are grappling with the impact it is having at work, at home, at school, and everywhere in between. Certainly, looking at various reports, growth is imminent and rather significant.

Overall, we see many of the analysts and research firms predict large growth for generative AI. For instance, GlobalData says generative AI revenue is anticipated to grow at a rate of 80% between 2022 and 2027, rising from $1.75 billion in 2022 to $33 billion by 2027. That is quite the boost—and in fact, we have already seen many people garnering interest in this in the past year alone.

People are now seeking this out in their everyday life too. Data collected by Finbold suggests the global interest in the keyword ‘How to use AI‘ on Google Trends skyrocketed by 507% between August 2022 to August 2023. The organization suggests that by the week ending on July 30, 2023, the keyword had acquired a popularity score of 85, which is in direct contrast with the value of 14 observed in the week ending on Aug. 14, 2022. Notably, the heightened popularity score of 100 was achieved during the June 11, 2023, week.

When looking at what global vertical markets tend to stand the most to gain, GlobalData identifies a few including IT (information technology), manufacturing, government, retail banking, and retail, which accounted for 39% of the overall market in 2022. It is also transforming fields such as healthcare, life sciences, entertainment, and education; and others soon to follow as well.

Another area that stands to benefit is data-center physical workloads. Dell’Oro Group suggests AI workloads, including generative AI, are emerging and are significant drivers for the data-center physical infrastructure market, which is forecast to grow at a 10% compound annual growth rate from 2022 to 2027. What’s more, liquid cooling revenues will eclipse $5 billion in the next five years.

We are discovering many organizations are already gravitating toward using AI in useful and productive ways in their businesses. A JetRockets report suggests 90% of CIOs (chief information officers) and CTOs (chief technology officers) have already integrated generative AI into their processes and 99% are planning to ramp up investment in the next 3-6 months. Those numbers are quite high. The benefits are certainly there—but are we prepared for all the changes that come along with this transformation?

With all this in mind, now we need to better understand why we need this technology, if employees should fear it, how we can train workers to perform hand-in-hand with the technology, and what comes next for the future of work. With all this growth on the horizon, we thought it might be best to tap a few experts to see what they have to say.

Why do we need AI now?

AI is an economic necessity. The whole world’s economy is based on the principle that we will produce goods, services, and technological advancements at a faster rate in the future than we do now. Every legal entity, whether that’s a small company or the United States Government has raised cash with the promise of producing greater returns in the future. The Dot Com burst and the housing market crash in 2008 are the most recent examples in the West where that promise was too large and the delivery on it too small. So, to avoid such calamities we need to continuously be producing at a faster rate.

The industrial revolution saw huge increases in the production of goods, the construction of buildings and infrastructure. And the digital revolution saw a dramatic increase in our ability to transmit and process data. Both these revolutions kept the promise of increasing productivity. Artificial Intelligence is the very necessary next evolution in the scale of our productivity. – Akhil Seth, head of open talent, UST

Artificial intelligence has come at the right time for business and society. The amount of data that’s being created and consumed every single day from our business processes and people complexities has created an extraordinary need to organize and utilize this data. That’s where AI comes into play.

AI can collect, filter, analyze and synthesize this data in the most efficient ways possible. When AI is purposely built and trained for specific tasks and opportunities in the business world, it can have tremendous upside for the productivity of employees and outcomes they drive on a daily basis. AI can also support all of us as individuals and consumers in our personal lives. – Paul Noble, founder and chief strategy officer, Verusen

What is driving the growth of AI?

In the consumer facing world, AI models and toolkits provided phenomenal simulations to make predictions on which marketing or other social engineering efforts can provide the most impact. And when we look at the metrics that Meta, Google, Netflix et al use to measure their success, they all measure their user’s attention (daily active users, watch time etc…). This is precisely because the profits that can be made with people’s attention are enormous. AI models have proven better than anything that has come before at grabbing and maintaining people’s attention. We see this with Netflix’ suggestion algorithm, Facebook’s personalized content curation and Youtube’s next video suggestion. So, profits are an incredible incentive to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with AI.

In the business-to-business world, AI becomes more attractive for the efficiencies it can bring. When a fraud detection algorithm can accurately process 100’s of millions of transactions a day and determine 95% of the time which ones are fraudulent, banks are able to put together an operation with a server and some software that would otherwise take all 8 billion people on the planet to process at a fraction of the speed.

The interesting thing about the growth of AI is that it is being fueled both at the fundamental mathematical level as well as the engineering and applications level. And this is happening to different extents in different countries.

In Kai Fu-Lee’s book, AI Superpowers, he talks about the difference in Chinese and Western AI development. In the west, there is an incredible focus on developing sophisticated algorithms that can do more with the same amount of data. Whereas in China, where the data collected on its citizens are much richer, fuller, and more descriptive, focus has been on applying basic algorithms on these richer datasets in creative ways to find insights. –Akhil Seth, head of open talent, UST

Should employees fear AI?

It is healthy to fear AI. Just like any change, the adoption of AI will shift the talent landscape around. The employees that take heed and prepare for this shifting landscape can maneuver themselves to end up on the hills rather than the valleys. The adoption of AI will certainly punish many people that fail to adapt their skillset to one that embraces AI instead of competing with it. – Akhil Seth, head of open talent, UST

Employees should not fear AI, but rather work with AI’s capabilities to seek better solutions to business challenges. Clearly, fears of AI talking over in the workplace have been filled with misinformation in these early days. And admittedly, in the wrong hands, AI can be a threat, but the risks of that are far lower compared to the massive rewards that AI can bring to us at the business level and the individual level, as well as for society overall.

Educating employees on AI’s promises will be key to its successful transition. As truer AI and deep learning technology and models are available for use, the outcomes, outputs, and trust will grow, and that’ll be the foundation for that education element. This is similar to what we do currently at Verusen in helping supply chains and materials procurement. – Paul Noble, founder and chief strategy officer, Verusen

How can we train people to work hand-in-hand with AI?

We can certainly train our current workforce on how to work with AI. Company mandated seminars, workshops and innovation challenges are all mechanisms that companies have deployed in the past to keep their employees’ skillsets relevant. And there is no reason the same cannot be done with AI.

However, more important is to feed AI into middle and high school curriculums. The fact of the matter is, AI will not only be a prevalent business tool but also something future generations will be forced to interact with ubiquitously in their everyday lives. So, it is important that our children develop the same familiarity with AI as they have with smart phones and tablets. They will not need to know the inner workings, but they need to become comfortable interacting with AI so that by the time they enter the workforce, working with AI feels as natural as it is for previous generations to have worked with a calculator. – Akhil Seth, head of open talent, UST

How will technology change as a result of AI?

Technology will change in two ways. Firstly, it will need to adapt to allow for more powerful AI algorithms. This means chips will become even more specialized to specific AI applications. Cloud based computing will become more prevalent to distribute computing power as it becomes more impractical for individuals to collect all the specialized hardware, they require for the programs they want to run. And our energy consumption will skyrocket as even the most basic appliances will have the energy requirements of a computer that can run an AI model.

So, while technologies will adapt to enable more AI, another set of technologies will develop as a reaction to AI. Debiasing algorithms are already attempting to stamp out the biases that exist in our datasets. Algorithms that can detect if AI has tampered with an image or video file will become important. Governments will implement regulations and guidelines for AI algorithms to adhere to and they will need new technologies to police and enforce this. Interestingly, these new technologies are all likely to be AI algorithms themselves. – Akhil Seth, head of open talent, UST

How will AI change the future of work?

AI will replace everything it eventually can. When it becomes the most efficient and effective way of completing a specific task, it will slowly take over all instances where that task is required. The work that will be left to people is tuning AI algorithms or interacting with AI algorithms in nuanced ways to achieve domain specific solutions. For example, ChatGPT is excellent at mimicking human language but its ability to completely replace a customer service representative for a phone company will require tuning, updates, domain specific training and continuous monitoring of an algorithm that might be built on top of ChatGPT.

The Hollywood Guilds’ strikes are interesting as they do highlight a fear that AI can completely replace the writers’ jobs. However, when AI gets to the point where it can reliably churn out entire movie scripts in seconds, writers’ jobs will turn into prompt engineering, advising on the script that a film company ought to develop and perhaps adapting specific nuances to the films to reflect the artistic wishes of the director. However, it will eventually cease to be long nights locked up in a room trying to churn out original scripts.

There are definitely skills that will become obsolete but there will be new skills that become highly valuable. – Akhil Seth, head of open talent, UST

AI will change the future of work by making information better understood, and more available to specific outcomes or tasks that you’re charging a specific AI to handle. AI will produce a greater acceleration in data work, analysis work, image/video creation or any given project task.

Additionally, with AI’s input, people will work together more effectively at scale, and that in turn will lead to organizations running more efficiently. That’s going to be really exciting. Because at that point, companies like Verusen will be able to innovate more strongly and embark on some groundbreaking initiatives that we hadn’t been able to do yet, because of systems, processes and people challenges across each of our ecosystems. We’re thrilled to see that the future is coming soon. – Paul Noble, founder and chief strategy officer, Verusen

Additional thoughts:

Fearing the unknown is entirely understandable. Artificial Intelligence has been projected to impact not just businesses and their employees but the future of humanity. Fearing the impact of AI in the workplace, however, seems to be more so rooted in the belief that AI will ultimately replace the workforce or make it obsolete in many ways. However, it’s important to look back at history before fearing the unknown. While technological innovation waves have historically disrupted industries, companies, and their workforce, these technology waves have rarely taken away from overall jobs. In fact, in most cases, they have created new career opportunities or even furthered current roles.

As AI is incorporated into our day-to-day lives and intelligent services and automation advances are made, it will undoubtedly change how we do things. However, it will not eliminate the workforce but will ultimately modernize it.

History has shown us how significant of an impact technology can make on the trajectory of our future, whether it is the invention of the home PC, the Internet, the smartphone, or other life-changing technological advances; they undeniably impacted not only our work but the future trajectory of our world. It would be unreasonable to assume that AI won’t affect us just as significantly.

We should expect that any aspect of our life and our work that can be automated and enhanced through AI or any other vehicle will eventually be. However, one should also expect that adopting AI will create millions more jobs than it will eliminate. We’re already seeing an uptick in the need for data scientists and machine learning engineers as a direct result of the AI boom, and this need will continue growing. Businesses will also continue to require and rely on human skills like emotional intellect, creativity, leadership, and many other uniquely human skills like common sense and reasoning that AI on its own isn’t able to do. So, while the future with AI will undoubtedly be very different than today, many of the differences will be positive.

Given that the trajectory of AI is largely unknown at this time, company leaders – – across industries–should focus on several key areas:

Establish Change Management: The implementation of AI will result in far-reaching transformations. It’s vital for companies to have the right tools and knowledge in place to guide them through one of the most significant technologies of our lifetime.

Educate: It’s foolish to think that measures can be taken to eliminate the use of ChatGPT at the workplace. So instead of spending time finding ways to block access to it, educate your staff on how it works and how they can use it responsibly.

Stay Informed: Stay informed of how AI is advancing, especially concerning your line of work. Being informed allows us to make informed decisions, and in an age where data is so readily accessible to all, there is no excuse for not.

Talk: And finally, simply talk about AI at work at the highest levels. Don’t worry about sounding uninformed about the subject, this is a learning experience for all of us, and the sooner we all have a better understanding of how it works, the more we can harness the power of the technology in our favor. – Moe Asgharnia, CIO, BPM

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