A robot uprising could be good for your career

While some jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence and automation, robots aren’t going to take over the world (I think). For IT pros, technological advances are opening the door to brand-new career options that embrace innovation and creativity.


If the thought of being replaced by a robot keeps you up at night, you’re not being paranoid — it’s a legitimate concern.

Jobs aren’t being ‘replaced’ by workers in China and India; they’re being replaced by robots, artificial intelligence and machine learning. A factory in China recently replaced 90 per cent of its workers with robots (and saw a corresponding rise in productivity — by a whopping 250 per cent), according to an article in ZME Science.

This is a sign of what’s to come.

Futurist Thomas Frey of think tank DaVinci Institute predicts 50 per cent of all jobs on the planet will disappear by 2025. That may seem extreme, but he does have a point. New technologies, from AI to machine learning, virtual reality and the Internet of Things, are rapidly changing the world we’re familiar with — and that includes the job market (and even how we train for those jobs).

Think back to when you started out in IT. Whether it was two years ago or two decades ago, you’ve seen a lot of changes. Some jobs have disappeared, some have become less relevant — but there is more demand for IT skills than ever. But those skills are evolving.

Some of this year’s top IT jobs include data scientists, big data engineers and network security engineers, according to research by Robert Half Technology. Big data and network security initiatives are driving demand for IT pros, particularly in industries like healthcare, finance and high-tech. Employers are also placing more emphasis on soft skills when hiring, according to the research.

Looking ahead, however, there are new and emerging job categories that are expected to become “critically important” to their industry by 2020, according to research from the World Economic Forum.

“Across nearly all industries, the impact of technological and other changes is shortening the shelf-life of employees’ existing skill sets,” says the report. “For example, technological disruptions such as robotics and machine learning — rather than completely replacing existing occupations and job categories — are likely to substitute specific tasks previously carried out as part of these jobs, freeing workers up to focus on new tasks and leading to rapidly changing core skill sets in these occupations.”

Data analysts will become increasingly important in all industries by 2020, according to the report, since organizations will need help making sense of all that data. By 2020, the WEF predicts 2 million jobs will be created worldwide that fall under computer, mathematical and engineering related fields.

AI and machine learning will create millions of jobs that don’t exist today, according to tech journalist JD Sartain in an article for Network World. The robotics industry will create new job categories, the article explains, such as robot engineer and robotics programmer. But it will also create positions that have never existed before, from robot quality inspectors to AI behavioral specialists.

Indeed, there will be all sorts of new job categories and functions, from machine learning architects to IoT specialists, VR developers, UX designers and data protection officers. Network programmers will still be in demand, of course, but their job functions will evolve as networks evolve, such as through software-defined networking.

Even now, we’re seeing big demand for cloud architects and cyber-security analysts; that’s unlikely to change any time soon. In an analysis of billions of data points related to hiring and recruiting, LinkedIn found that cloud and distributed computing jobs have remained in the No. 1 spot for the past two years, followed closely by statistical analysis and data mining.

There’s no point trying to cling on to the past. By embracing robots — and the changes that technologies such as AI and machine learning will bring — you’ll ensure you won’t be replaced by them.

Image: freedigitalphotos

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