As an avid follower of information technology trends, I have read hundreds of articles and several dozen books about artificial intelligence (A.I.) over the past six years. A few of the books have been reviewed on this blog beginning in 2014 (see Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, RISE OF THE ROBOTS: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, and Review of The Second Machine Age: Work, Process, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee). Recently, two items triggered my Spidey sense (a term coined by Marvel Comics for the ability of superhero Spiderman to sense when something was about to happen).
Fortune Magazine’s February 2020 issue dedicated its cover and a substantial portion of its articles to A.I. I have nothing against Fortune, but it is not the source that I generally consult for breaking news about innovations in technology. The editors chose to publish articles on five different A.I.-related topics – (1) an article about The Quest for Human-Level A.I., (2) an article about the progress of A.I. in enabling natural language processing to end the challenge in translating languages, (3) an article about Tik Tok, an addictive video app powered by A.I. and owned by a Chinese company, (4) an article about Medicine by Machine and how A.I. is matching gene therapy treatments with existing drugs, (5) how A.I. is enabling human resource departments to screen applicants and better match needs with candidates, and (6) how A.I. is assisting the fertility industry in improving success rates and other innovations. If you are unfamiliar with A.I., I recommend reading these articles in Fortune for a good overview of the technology’s capabilities.
The second item that triggered this blog article was a marketing email from EdX, the joint venture from Harvard and MIT that provides college courses for individuals interested in learning about topics from the experts teaching at elite institutions. This week’s email was about the courses offered at EdX related to A.I. The header on the EdX email was: The A.I. Revolution is Here. There were links to courses from the University of Montreal, the University of Washington, Tel Aviv University, Curtin University, the University of Pennsylvania, IBM, Harvard University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Texas at Austin, RedHat, Linux Foundation, the Technische Universität München (Technical University of Munich), Israel X – the Campus for the Israeli National Product for Digital Learning, and Columbia University. If I had the time, I wouldn’t mind signing up for all of these courses. Regardless of which course you or I would take, the real issue is how do you get up to speed on A.I.?
Getting up to speed on artificial intelligence is relative to what your professional status is. If you are an employee with no involvement or knowledge of artificial intelligence, read the Fortune articles, read my blog reviews of books on the topic, and maybe one or two books. There are and will continue to be many jobs eliminated because of the advances of A.I. technology. Keep it in your rear-view window if you are a line worker and not a manager. If you are a manager, you need to be on top of the technology and how it may be capable of enhancing your outcomes as well as replacing many members of your team. If you are a CEO, you need to be aware of A.I.’s capabilities and implement it before your competitors do. If you are a committed, lifelong learner, you’ll be okay. If not, please start educating yourself to be in a situation where you can recover if your job is eliminated through automation.