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🎓 Does artificial intelligence alter education today?

The rise of artificial intelligence has led to many pondering on how the workplace could change. The
🎓 Does artificial intelligence alter education today?
By Connected Paths (Riaz Kanani) • Issue #76 • View online
The rise of artificial intelligence has led to many pondering on how the workplace could change.
The disruption to the existing workforce is a major focus but for those of us with kids, I found myself pondering on how it would affect them.
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Past our sell by date
I think its important to start with where we are with artificial intelligence. AI is a long way away from where we imagine it to be – a humanoid generalised robot capable of interacting and acting like a human.
Today, discrete devices or tools that provide the ability to automate away specific tasks is how we are seeing artificial intelligence being implemented.
This approach also leads to better results than a human only or AI only approach and so is likely to form the foundations of artificial intelligence in the workplace initially.
As this happens though, roles will change. Jobs tomorrow will look different to today.
It is almost impossible to predict what will happen to individual roles that exist today. The underlying principles of work though are not changing: innovation, potential cost savings and increased value will drive opportunity and in turn create those new roles in companies.
Changing education
I think it is clear that knowledge and therefore broad education remain important.
Fundamentally schools are there to provide the building blocks upon which you can provide value to society. But I am not sure they need to change the core topics significantly today. Numeracy, literacy, technology, creativity as well as softer skills like group work, leadership, communication remain important in a post AI-world.
At degree level though, courses will need to change.
Do accountancy courses include a greater understanding of the way artificial intelligence will execute tasks currently done by accountants or do they train for a new type of accountant. The workplace cares more for the latter so this should happen over time. Greater integration between the workplace and universities would allow this to happen faster though.
When it comes to marketing, its shift towards a data heavy approach has seen increasing demand for data scientists who analyse and predict key success indicators. Over time, these processes will become more and more automated.
Does it result in a decline in demand though?
More likely we will see greater numbers of companies able to take advantage of automated data science capabilities (who could not previously afford a data scientist) and the data scientist role being used to give an edge over the automation – assuming innovation in data science remains possible.
Changing functions
The foundations of work are not changing in one big bang.
Obviously, more manual production roles and clerical roles are more affected than others. PwC has looked more into this here.
Entering the workforce today though, these roles are already becoming less available and are obvious to avoid.
Finance, strategy, sales, marketing, excellent products and services, innovation all continue to be required. The detail is the challenge. These will not change overnight and for the most part will evolve over time.
The same base skills end up being required: solving problems, decision making, working with others, leadership skills, numeracy skills, ability to use technology and communication.
Being able to adapt as these functions evolve though will be just as important so continuing education post graduation becomes even more necessary. The one certainty is that roles will change over time.
That is not new.
Changing industries
There has been a lot of research into the impact on industries and the activities they undertake. PwC and McKinsey have looked at which industries are more likely to see automation. Read them here and here.
At a macro level, PwC predicts that in the UK, 20% of jobs will be lost by 2037, but a similar number will be created but it is at the industry level you see significant change.
Healthcare, transportation, financial services are all examples of industries that will see significant change over the next 20 years.
Rather than look at the detail of what activities will remain inside these post-AI industries, for me it is more interesting to think about how these industries could evolve over time.
Increased artificial intelligence in security means an accelerating arms race that will require significant investment to counter.
Increased change as a result of automation clearly sees an increase in training requirements for companies - though training may be delivered in different ways thanks to advances in AI and communication.
Wherever there is significant change though, there is opportunity.
So rather than dismissing industries seeing significant reductions in their overall workforce, I suspect there is even more opportunity there for the right person with the right insight.
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Connected Paths (Riaz Kanani)

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