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Are you AI-Proof ?

Jobs Lost

There has long been unsettling anxiety about labor issues in automation and the effect AI will have on job availabilities for humans. According to a McKinsey report Jobs Lost, Jobs Gained: Workforce Transitions in A Time of Automation in 2017,

by the year 2030, between almost zero and one-third of work activities could be replaced with a midpoint of 15 percent, 75 million to 375 million workers (3 to 14 percent of the global workforce) will need to switch occupational categories. 

Moreover, all workers will need to adapt, as their occupations evolve alongside increasingly capable machines. Some of that adaptation will require higher educational attainment, or spending more time on activities that require social and emotional skills, creativity, high-level cognitive capabilities and other skills relatively hard to automate. Rising incomes, investments in infrastructure and energy, and other catalysts could potentially create millions of new jobs to compensate for this trend. It is estimated that over 500 million new jobs will be created under all of the above categories globally by 2030.

What does it mean for education?

The report presents a daunting issue in our current education system. The overwhelming gap between education and talents needed in the future seems to be larger then anticipated, and it’s happening faster then we could ever imagine. If there truly comes a day when 30 percent of the current work activities are "actually" automated, what percentage of our current education is deemed “useless” for the future?

Perhaps you have already read about the recent controversial AI curriculum for pre-school children. It is reported that this is just one of the 33-session curriculum for primary and high-school students all over China. While it instantaneously stirred up a heated internet discussion among parents and educators, another publisher also announced launching a 10-session curriculum by mid-2019. April this year, Shanghai Education University released an AI curriculum for high school kids. Later in June, Suzhou University launched the 8-session curriculum for primary and high school students.

 Looks like the world is starting to get ready for the future: 

In April, the Ministry of Education issued an action plan to promote AI education in universities. According to the plan, universities in China will improve the AI discipline and make breakthroughs in basic theory and key technology research by 2020. Chinese universities will become core forces for building major global AI innovation centers by 2030. China's action plan on AI education calls for the integration of AI with mathematics, statistics, physics, biology, psychology, and sociology, among other disciplines. It promotes “AI +X” (X meaning a subject you pick) as the new education model. It describes all the related requirements in details for schools from primary all the way up to universities, aiming to set up 100 majors that combine AI and other subjects by 2020. 

Moreover, universal AI education infrastructure, an inseparable part in the AI development plan, will be improved for daily and life-long study.

Of course, China is not the only one being inspired to make the change for a better future. American Association of Artificial Intelligence announced a joint project with the United Nations called AI for K-12, with the sole purpose of establishing the AI education curriculum for kindergarten to high school education.

Today AI is merely a tool, an assistant to free teachers more time to focus on teaching. But as it finally becomes a mandatory curriculum at school, 4 core literacies are highlighted to build digital literacy education in general.

Information Literacy – Capabilities of obtaining problem-solving information and data with critical thinking skills

Computational Thinking – Capabilities of using computing methods for problem and abstract characteristics definition.

Digital learning and Innovation – Capabilities of utilizing digital resources and tools to independently manage their learning process and building innovation works

Digital Citizenship – Capabilities to behave responsibly in both the real and virtual world.

What's the plan?

The plan seems to be taking care of the next generation for AI adoption. Apart from AI adoption, other areas that would require creativity and social skills might still benefit largely from the human touch. As machines might act smart but yet without an exhaustive amount of underlying data, they cannot evolve or deviate from what they already know, in other words, they can not learn how to be creative like humans do (at least not just yet).

However, The way we teach today, even at the K–6 or K–12 level, doesn’t put enough emphasis on creativity, social perceptiveness, design and working in teams. These are the kinds of things that are going to matter very much in the future and matter already, much faster than we’ve adapted to them.

And if AI is the future, and that we need to prepare ourselves to live in a world of AI, will your creativity, innovation capability and social skills be strong enough for that future? 

What are you doing to make yourself, your job, your craft AI-proof? How can you make sure that your unique capabilities will not be replaced by a more efficient machine before you get a chance to shift your career?

These are questions that resonate more than ever in the history of humankind. The industrial revolution took several decades before it changed the work habits on all continents. Even the first Internet revolution took time to reach all the professions. AI promises to rise fast everywhere. It has been constantly pushing us to redefine what it is to be human. However, as the AI frontier resolutely advances, we have to make sure that the human frontier expands on the other end of the spectrum. It is what we need to prepare ourselves for.


What are you doing to prepare yourself in your industry?


Co-Author: Jackie Fong, Stephane Monsallier

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