Every transition period in the history of humanity has brought about resistance, as well as obsolescence and innovations. This post reflects on the new jobs and roles originated in Artificial Intelligence and other technologies of the digital world.
Images of the Luddite movement a couple of centuries ago depicted farmers and artisans destroying industrial machines to protest against stocking frames and threshing machines that threatened the value of their work. Today’s industrial revolution is digital, and some economists are using the term neo-Luddism to talk about resistance to computer technology.
However, just as certain jobs become obsolete and opposition arises, new positions are created and professions are transformed.*
Addressing the ethical aspect of digital transformation is critical in this scenario, as is the democratization of technology, inclusion, and empowerment. We need to reflect on the economic impact and its consequences on work, as presented in this session: Democratizing Digital Technology & Ethics. Tech and AI design principles by Wilson Pais and Roberto Icasuriaga (Microsoft), given at GX29, where they examine which specific jobs will be affected by Artificial Intelligence, which will be replaced, and which will be created. It is an excellent session that I recommend for software developers to learn about ethical principles and Artificial Intelligence, as well as the AI Business School, an update platform for different industry and business sectors.
Software has permeated all professions and industries, daily life, education and commerce. We’re witnessing how these structures are crumbling together with their mechanisms, which translates into disrupted businesses and a large number of unemployed people. In this particular moment in history, data is as valuable as gold and oil. Digital coordinates: data, connectivity, and mobility. Mobility and connectivity characterize the new paradigm of today’s society. The power of bits shapes the jobs of the present and the future, and in this landscape, the following players determine the new labor framework:
- The smart device technology, represented by our ever-present cell phones and devices such as tablets and wearables.
- The Internet of Things (IoT), which encompasses all the everyday objects featuring software, sensors, and connectivity to interact.
- The large volume of data generated by the IoT, and the overall connectivity that has given rise to the possibilities of big data.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is the intelligence of software processes that emulate the logic of human thought through physical sensors –which would be our sensory organs– to obtain information about the environment and, according to certain parameters, make decisions that are automatically executed.
- Virtual Reality – It is a reality entirely made up of digital images that can be accessed through lenses, creating the illusion that we’re entering a new world as if we were actually in it.
- Lastly, the Cloud or Cloud Computing. In this context, storage in the Cloud –on the Internet– allows the data coming from the IoT, cell phones, and various wearable devices to be immediately saved in one location through connectivity.
“The power of bits shapes the jobs of the present and the future.” Work roles materialized in the Digital Transformation age The irruption of these technologies in society has changed the skills required for the labor market. Below is a short list of professions or highly-skilled trades that have emerged due to technologies such as Smart Devices, IoT, Big Data, AI, Virtual Reality and the Cloud. Combined, they drive digital transformation.
- Smart device technology requires software professionals who can program in several languages for the market’s most popular platforms and operating systems, using tools to generate applications that perform a wide range of tasks, from general to specific ones, for various niches. In this regard, the role of the programmer is highly relevant as is that of the business analyst who can translate the needs of various industries and sectors of society, as well as their technology requirements, into a mobile or web application to improve their processes or be more productive. Smart device technology also requires interface design experts, user experience designers, usability specialists and graphic designers specialized in mobile interfaces. Fashion designers specialized in wearables could become a profession in high demand, a role that would work together with industrial designers or hardware creation specialists.
- The Internet of Things is a segment supported by high-quality connectivity. In this context, wireless network technicians and analysts as well as home automation experts are and will be essential roles in the operation of the IoT. Other necessary technical profiles are sensor designers, geolocation technicians, and energy efficiency technicians who work with smart metering.
- In the big data ecosystem, tools are required to read and interpret, analyze and classify the large volume of data emerging from the IoT and smart devices. The professional role would be a renewed one in the statistics field, including metrics and data analysis specialists. Professionals who understand charts returned by a big data process are highly valuable for immediate decision making, which will impact products, services and trends, providing accurate information when developing critical solutions in a digital society that changes at an accelerated pace. This cross-cutting role, currently known as Data Scientist, encompasses fields such as medicine and marketing.
- Artificial Intelligence requires specialized researchers who can cross over the boundaries of cognitive, logic and robotic technology to develop bots that can meet various needs. Most likely, AI will continue to render many jobs obsolete, but it will also generate new jobs, such as education and training technicians for bot systems. That is to say, Machine Learning specialists, programmers and testers; supervisors specialized in monitoring and fixing errors; and maintenance technicians and automation economists.
- The creative industry, digital art, and design are intertwined with Virtual Reality. Artists and communication and design professionals must explore and understand its narrative logic to generate quality content. Virtual Reality has a great potential for expression and is a fertile ground for new ways to communicate, spread culture, educate or propose marketing and advertising strategies. In this scenario, 3D designers and scriptwriters, and video game designers are required for Virtual Reality platforms.
- Cloud technology, which is as vital as connectivity for the digital revolution to take place, will always require knowledgeable professionals who can be consulted when purchasing cloud services, including professionals focusing on security systems for cloud data and cloud architects.
These new jobs can also be considered from the standpoint of professions or sectors. In the field of medicine, for example, big data specialists will be required to save lives by making diagnoses. As for robotics in medicine –or better yet, nanorobotics – surgeons will be required who are experts handling surgical devices which are invisible to the human eye, but which can be operated through screens and commands.
Digital transformation would impact the organ transplant area, with the emergence of 3D printing and design specialists who can print and design organs. In a different field, proceedings –whether public or private– have been transformed to provide a better service to customers or citizens. In this context, Uruguay has created AGESIC (Agency for the Development of the Electronic Management Government and Information and Knowledge Society) which since 2006 has digitized a large number of citizen-centered proceedings and processes, with a positive impact on the bureaucratic structure. What’s more, in Uruguay’s Judiciary a mobile application has recently been implemented to receive real-time notifications about records. While this system dramatically saves time, it also causes this role of paralegals to become unnecessary. In the agricultural sector, not exploring the possibilities of technology combining sensors, IoT, and big data means, in part, to lag behind in terms of real-time measurements to monitor crops and forecast severe weather.
The viewing potential of drones and geo-referenced applications powered by mobility allows controlling pests and mitigating losses in a much more sustainable manner. Commerce is another important example: brick-and-mortar stores are no longer essential, as it can be solved with electronic commerce experts. Vendors can showcase their products through virtual stores or apps, with the help of a Digital Marketing expert who will analyze Internet visits and conversions in order to adopt new sale strategies to increase earnings.
Many of today’s most relevant companies use business models based on these software pillars, including global freight companies that don’t have their own fleet of vehicles, hospitality platforms that don’t own hotels, or music virtual stores. We’re living in a new era that is based on digital technology, and where literacy doesn’t only involve learning how to write and count. Today, literacy should involve learning programming languages and being savvy on social media. Also, it’s worth noting that the role of Community Manager is no longer an unusual one, as it was five years ago, and has now become very common and in demand. Can you think of another new job emerging from digital transformation? What would be the new roles in this scenario? You can share your opinion by writing a comment.