By Christina Elias
Recent research has revealed what many current employees and students think about the emerging role of technology – particularly artificial intelligence – in many fields and the impact it will have on job training and skills in the future.
The report, published by the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center. Of the 1,400 technologists, futurists and scholars surveyed, 70 percent agreed that new training strategies would be successfully implemented in the future. The 30 percent who disagreed that new training programs would be successful said that simply implementing training programs would not be enough to prepare workers for changes.
Janna Anderson, Elon University professor of communications and director of the Imagining the Internet Center, said that technological takeovers are already happening.
“It’s not that people are being knocked out of the equation, we just need less people to get the job done,” she said.
Anderson said that almost all job markets will be affected by artificial intelligence, which has already cemented a permanent position in our daily lives.
“The phones that you have in your pockets are more powerful intelligence agents than most of the computers that were used in all the manned space flights in the exploration of the moon.”
Anderson said that partnership is the way forward along with a conscious willingness to change the “entrenched institutions we have so that people can continue to sustain a great relationship with knowledge throughout their lives and move along with artificial intelligence.”
Sophomore Bailee Miller is a biology major who is considering going into either healthcare or a policy-related field. She said she has already seen some of the ways technology is changing one of her potential career paths.
“I don’t know if a machine or technology could even take over fighting for what’s right, but on the medical side, technology can perform surgeries on its own, especially simple surgeries,” she said. “It’s already being done.”
The knowledge needed to conduct certain surgeries is changing. For example, she said that while doctors may know about the human body, engineers know about the machines in the operating rooms.
“Now, biomedical engineers are the ones who oversee those machines,” she said. “I think with time that could be a bigger field, biomedical engineering instead of medical school.”
For young people in other fields, big changes can be more difficult to identify. Sophomores Brian Sputh, majoring in marketing and management, and Ryan Healey, a finance major, don’t think there will be drastic changes that may threaten their career paths.
“It’s almost become the norm that you need to have [Microsoft] Excel skills,” Healey said. “As far as technology, I feel like there’s only so much you can learn without learning it in the workplace.”
She said the business school provides workshops to help students as much as possible before sending them into the workforce, but there are constant changes. For example, Healey talked about how stick and credit trading is an entirely automated process now.
“I had either minimal or really no experience using [software], so I would say it’s important to learn them in high school even or getting the gist of them before college to make yourself competitive from the beginning,” Sputh said.
Sophomore Paige Carlin, double majoring in strategic communications and international studies, said she hasn’t given much thought to the role artificial intelligence would play in a job.
“I don’t necessarily think that would be an issue for me in particular,” she said. “It’s kind of a personal job and you need people skills to do it and actual creative thought.”
While she doesn’t think her career is in danger, she says younger people are expected to have a broader understanding of the technology used in the workplace than their older counterparts.
“I think there are so many more expectations for people our age and younger who grew up with the technology,” she said.
Pew Research Center is expected to release another report in conjunction with Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center in upcoming weeks.