Artificial Intelligence has come a long way since wartime computer scientist Alan Turing asked the question, ‘can machines think?’
Modern AI is helping doctors detect breast cancer. It’s using satellite imagery to forecast natural disasters and climate change impact. It’s helping us select the next TV show to watch, and song to listen to. It’s operating machinery and driving autonomous vehicles. It’s even writing our business’ blog articles and generating original artworks.
So given that AI is infiltrating almost every aspect of our lives, we have to wonder what this means for the wider tech landscape. AI and Machine Learning skills are in high demand, and can often lead to highly paid jobs. If you’re interested in getting into AI, now’s a great time to explore opportunities in the field.
So what is AI, really?
IBM says that, “At its simplest form, artificial intelligence is a field, which combines computer science and robust datasets, to enable problem-solving”.
Machines working out issues on their own. Sounds pretty neat – and yet the jury’s still out on how exactly to define artificial intelligence.
Humans vs. ideal approach
Do we consider intelligent thoughts and actions to be based on how humans would act or think? Or based on what is ‘rational’? (Keeping in mind humans aren’t always rational, and are by nature emotional beings.) This is what Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig question in their work Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.
They outline four potential goals or definitions of AI:
Systems that think like humans
Systems that act like humans
Systems that think rationally
Systems that act rationally
Weak vs. strong AI
Weak or ‘narrow’ AI means that AI is trained to perform specific tasks. This requires human input, so is obviously limited to human knowledge – and is potentially influenced by human bias. It still has sophisticated and far-reaching application, however, including speech recognition and autonomous vehicles.
Strong AI is the stuff of science fiction: smart machines with self-aware consciousness and the ability to solve problems, learn, and plan for the future. In theory, strong AI could match or even surpass the ability of the human brain. People are exploring its development, but there are no known examples as of yet.
Deep learning vs. machine learning
These subsets of AI are the closest thing we have to strong AI at the moment. They involve machines learning in the same way that humans learn, and essentially ‘teaching themselves’. They get more accurate with continued use.
Deep learning is a more advanced form of machine learning requiring more human input.
Examples of AI
Speech recognition – Siri/Alexa, or voice-to-text applications which use natural language processing (NLP).
Computer vision – Self-driving vehicles, facial recognition in social media tagging.
Recommendation engines – Spotify or Netflix algorithms that suggest new content based on behavior data, or online retailers that use consumer data to suggest recommended add-ons.
Automated stock trading – AI-driven trading platforms that make millions of transactions per day to optimize portfolios.
Customer service – Chatbots that answer questions and provide customer advice.
How is AI shaping the human experience?
While AI has significantly shifted the way we live our lives, a lot of it has happened without us paying much attention to it. Smart machines driven by AI are working faster and more reliably than ever before to bring consumers the products and services they want.
We expect nothing less than detailed insights and instant gratification, and AI can often deliver this. Super fast.
In business, AI is speeding up problem solving by analyzing customer data rapidly.
In entertainment, AI is analyzing and predicting plotlines that will work well so producers can make content like this.
In medicine, AI is allowing hyper-personalization of treatments over generic medical advice.
In cybersecurity, AI is blocking attacks before they occur by noting trends and putting in safeguards.
In transport, AI is making driverless vehicles a reality through high-tech spatial awareness more reliable than most human drivers.
AI isn’t simply sitting around spitting out data – it’s considerably impacting the way humans think, act, and experience the world.
What AI advancement means for tech
A whole lot of panic
There’s plenty of concern that AI will replace many tech jobs and leave humans unemployed. The tech layoffs experienced in 2022 added to this fear. But is this panic warranted?
We’re seeing evidence of tech jobs shifting as AI becomes more advanced. For example, OpenAI has reportedly been hiring people to train AI in software engineering, meaning there will be less jobs available to human coders.
Then there are companies like Lemonade, the insurance company that proudly uses AI to create customized policies and screen claims. Its chatbot Maya manages most of the customer service needs, so there’s no need to employ many customer service professionals.
And let’s not overlook the recent hype around ChatGPT, which was launched in November 2022. It’s one of the few (if not the only) major threats to Google ever, with many users drawing parallels and even proclaiming ChatGPT as the more powerful search tool.
Despite the changing tech landscape fuelled by AI tools, we don’t think tech professionals are out of a job.
A whole lot of potential
As AI tools develop and become more accessible, they offer potential for tech professionals to perform their jobs better and focus more on creative aspects of their roles.
Curious? Check out some of these AI tools we’re loving:
ChatGPT – A chatbot, search engine, and content creator rolled into one, ChatGPT allows you to gather information quickly and even structure it by conversing with a bot. Use it to help you word emails, troubleshoot coding errors, or perform research.
DALL-E 2 – OpenAI’s powerful image generator can create specific and detailed imagery based on written descriptions. Use it to flex your creativity, to upgrade your display picture, or to create a customized art piece for your bedroom wall.
Q.ai – This is a free tool that uses AI to power investment decisions – apparently better than a human can. Do you own research and get personal financial advice before giving this one a try, but it’s with looking into if you’re interested in building your personal wealth.
Textio – A useful tool if you’re recruiting or managing a team, Textio uses AI to analyze language and search for signs of gender bias. Use it to scan your job ads and performance review materials to ensure you’re using unbiased workplace language.
Fireflies – This AI meeting assistant uses NLP to transcribe meeting notes and analyze voice conversations for you. Use it to record meetings and easily list key topics discussed.
AI opportunities for women in tech
So what this all boils down to is that artificial intelligence presents numerous positive opportunities for women in tech.
Use these new tools to change the way you work – Cut down on research or ideation time, increase productivity, or automate usually manual tasks.
Advocate for AI tech in your workplace – Beyond just yourself, search for ways your entire team or workplace could adopt AI technologies to improve efficiencies or make the customer experience more seamless.
Pursue a career in AI – While AI might replace some roles, it’s going to open a whole lot more in the process. Take a look below at some of the avenues you could explore for a career in AI.
What sort of AI jobs can you do?
People may worry about AI taking our jobs away, but the reality is it’s actually creating more jobs for us. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a much higher than average growth in this field (21%).
Some of the current areas of AI employment include:
Data Analytics – involving working with AI to find patterns and trends from data, and make decisions accordingly.
Software Engineering – you may get involved in developing AI programs yourself, or using them to speed up your own software development projects.
User Experience – working as an AI professional within the realm of UX may involve programming chatbots and tools to improve customer experiences.
Business Intelligence – you may pursue a career that requires you to work with data analysts and AI to analyze market trends and make appropriate business decisions.
NLP – natural language processing skills can be applied across a wide range of tech tools including chatbots, virtual assistants and predictive texting.
AI trainers – communications roles and people who will teach AI empathy and nuance.
AI explainers – people who bridge the gap between AI decisions and human understanding, and identify why mistakes occur.
And of course it helps to be mindful of the way that AI technology might change the way we perform existing jobs, allowing them to be less reliant on tasks like manual research and data entry.
Skills you need to work in AI
Technical skills – This includes AI-specific skills, as well as technical skills specific to the industry you’ll work in. For example, you may work as an AI specialist in the medical field, and have practical experience as a health professional.
Workplace skills – Soft skills such as communication and problem solving will take you far, while career-building skills such as negotiation and networking will help you progress in your AI career even faster.
A Beginner’s Mind – As AI continues to shift, advance, and develop further, it’ll be important to remain open-minded. Treat every day as a chance to learn something new, get curious, and importantly – have fun!
AI is undoubtedly changing the face of tech. It’s our hope that more women and minorities will get involved in the field to ensure it’s diverse, inclusive, and representative of all.
We’d love to know what you think about the potential of AI in tech. Hit up our Instagram to share your thoughts!