Hot jobs of the future: Machine learning, AI, robotics, and more

Machine learning and AI will create millions of jobs that don’t even exist today

Hot jobs of the future: Machine learning, AI, robotics, and more

"Roughly 50 percent of all the jobs on the planet will disappear by the year 2025," predicts futurist Thomas Frey, founder of the DaVinci Institute think tank.

While that claim might seem a bit overblown, it is clear that new technologies like robotics, self-driving cars, 3D printing, drones, artificial intelligence and virtual reality will create major upheavals in all sorts of labor markets, not just technology. (Think self-driving cars and taxi drivers.)

So what are the jobs of the future? And how can you prepare for them? (Also see a slideshow: 12 top tech fields of the future.)

Where the jobs are

Altimeter Group analyst Brian Solis says the "robotics" industry will create a variety of new job categories. Some will be highly technical like robotics engineer, robotics programmer, drone engineer. But there will also be positions that never existed before that don’t require an engineering background, like robot quality inspectors, robotics coaches and counselors, AI behavioral specialists, AI animators and narrative specialists.

"While the world fights for the jobs of the past, innovation is rapidly consuming the jobs of the present," says Solis. "Every day, more jobs are becoming automated or displaced by emerging technologies in the name of progress, and it won’t stop. The massive efforts to 'bring jobs back' will, in hindsight, be all for naught. The real investment with the greatest return on investment (ROI) will be (and must be) in helping employees learn new skills and gain valuable expertise that apply to the jobs of the future."

Analyst Torsten Volk, from Enterprise Management Associates, say machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are two keys areas for future job growth. Machine learning is defined as the field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without explicit programming, while artificial intelligence is about machines that exhibit intelligence through rules, logic, and/or algorithms.

Examples of jobs in the category would be data center AI and ML architects, programmers, analysts, engineers, scientists, and all of the above related to the internet of things (IoT).

"The new breed of jobs requires a fresh understanding of where the limits of AI- and ML-driven technologies are," Volk says. "In the future, programmers, product managers, architects, and even business roles must familiarize themselves with the impact of AI/ML-driven automation and decision-making regarding the economics of IT operations and new product development."

According to Forrester analyst JP Gownder, Forrester expects computer and mathematics jobs to grow in the United States by 57 percent over the next decade. Increasingly, these jobs will cluster around artificial intelligence and the related big-data knowledge bases that are needed to drive AI. "As we move toward an AI-first world," says Gownder, "Specializations will emerge in using subdivisions of AI such as machine learning, cognition, and natural language generation. These jobs exist today, but will become far more mainstream and subsegmented in the future—for example, expertise in health care AI."

Solis believes that additional future jobs will include many nontraditional careers such as the following:

  1. Digital currency advisers, who help investors build wealth by investing, trading, and selling emerging digital currencies.
  2. Cybersecurity and digital investigators who help individuals and companies investigate threats, solve crimes, and advise on security protocols for protection.
  3. HR innovators who focus on identifying the jobs of the future within the organization and establish hiring protocols and training programs that transition current employees away from eroding job functions.
  4. Resource auditors who evaluate roles for viability and scale, identify those which are out of date and/or those which can be automated, and then scores individuals who can or cannot migrate to new roles.
  5. Virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) architects who design environments and advise colleagues regarding the necessary supporting technologies.

Doers v. thinkers

According to analyst Geoff Woollacott from Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBRI), machine learning will create a labor force divided between those executing against machine learning directives (doers) and those who will analyze and evaluate the algorithms and the business outcomes of those machine learning objectives (thinkers).

"More thinking from machines, less thinking required from humans," explains Woollacott. "Fintech, for example, will have automatic metrics from personal data for automatic approval of car loans, where before, it was a laborious process inside a car dealership or within a bank."

Imagine crowdfunding specialists or crypto-currency bankers. Or a brick-and-mortar branch bank that becomes a walk-in tech-support center where customers are told how to work the online screens to conduct their banking transactions.

Datacenter management will be less about diagnosing outages and more about monitoring network performance dashboards, then determining when to shift the application performance rules/guidelines to maintain the desired business outcome.

Traditional jobs

Even though there will continue to be demand for traditional professions like doctors, nurses, lawyers, bankers, and teachers, these jobs will require a much deeper knowledge of existing technologies and computer systems because every facet of their lives from communications to transportation to research and education will be permeated with computer tech.

All occupations will require its professionals to understand, manage, and maintain their various devices in addition to the specialized computer equipment that's associated with their jobs such as diagnostic and imaging systems, scanning and monitoring equipment, and analysis applications for medical personnel, for example.

And most all future jobs will require individuals to have multiple skills in many technological fields. For example, programmers, analysts, and developers will have the proficiency to perform all three of these functions. While designers, architects, and various engineers will likely share the same skill set. As corporations downsize and tighten their belts; many similar technical jobs will merge, so employees can be more versatile, which allows for more mobility across multiple occupations. This will be particularly necessary in smaller companies and rural locations.

And we can all imagine how these new technologies will change agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, construction, transportation, communication, and entertainment.

For example, atmospheric water harvesters, air and soil sensors, crop sensors, equipment telematics, and livestock biometrics use optical sensors, drones, computerized mechanical devices, embedded chips, and other robotics-based automation to manage and maintain crops.

Future infrastructure will also use sensors, drones, microgrids, mass energy storage, and "smart city" technologies such as smart meters, smart energy grids, smart streetlights, smart traffic lights, and even smart parking all connected through IoT networks.

Smart buildings and smart houses will encompass energy efficient technologies such as intelligent controls for temperature, lighting, energy consumption, sound systems, entertainment, media, security, and communications. We could also see new holographic technologies such as holo-phones and 3D images that float above laptops and/or hover over tablets.

Three-dimensional printing technologies will heavily influence the manufacturing and construction jobs of the future. 3D printed products, materials, houses, and buildings will provide jobs for designers, architects, 3D dimensionalists, cloud architects, mobile technology administrators, engineers, programmers, analysts, augmented reality architects, robot-assisted field workers, and other robotic functions.

How do individuals train or prepare for these jobs?

EMA analyst Torsten Volk suggests that individuals seeking careers in these up and coming "future" professions should learn to abolish today’s usual boundaries and ignore conventional rules.

In addition, future job seekers should try as many cognitive technologies and turnkey AI offerings such as Bluemix Watson, Amazon ML, Google Vision API that are available in order to learn and 'practice' for tomorrow's jobs.

Newbies (both young and old) should experiment and play around with robotic toys such as Cozmo, Dash & Dot, Chimp, Ziro, Leka, etc. to learn coding and enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.

And corporations should aggressively transform how employees are trained and educated. "Or, we will not be producing the labor skills our business enterprises require as they pivot from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge economy," says Woollacott.

This story, "Hot jobs of the future: Machine learning, AI, robotics, and more" was originally published by Network World.

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