Whether you're curious about the Generative AI hype or actively seeking a job in technology, you're probably wondering, how do I start learning AI? How do I break into AI? These are the right questions to ask.
Given that AI means different things to different people, let's define what AI is in this context. It is an application that replicates human abilities such as rationality, perception and understanding of natural language. It can learn from patterns in data and can autonomously become more proficient in its outputs.
The recent developments in Generative AI such as ChatGPT has brought it to the attention of everyone and made us think about how it might be applied in our working lives, for better or worse. After all, the technology isn't confined to factory floors or back offices; it's made its way into creative fields like photography and copywriting, completely shattering the myth that AI would only displace blue-collar jobs.
So, where does that leave AI on the hype curve? Will it plateau soon? For now, the debate about its lifecycle is as open-ended as the technology itself. The apps on your phone likely already use AI algorithms, making it a daily part of our lives.
While its adoption by individuals has been meteoric, the corporate adoption of the large language models (LLMs) is still really in its infancy, so the impact on the job market is limited at the moment, but that will change as enterprises adopt new AI-powered applications, which will change the way we work forever. Almost a third (30%) of UK organisations are using some form of AI – with 68% of large companies adopting it, but the definition of AI is broad. Surprisingly, AI adoption is lower in the US where only 25% of companies are using it, and even less in Australia at 24%. China is leading the world with 58% of businesses using AI in some way with India close behind at 57%. The actual impacts will come when LLMs are incorporated into our everyday work applications, such as CRMs and collaboration tools, where usage will become ubiquitous. These technologies are expected to integrate into enterprise-level platforms like Salesforce and Oracle, so prepare for a shift.
All sectors need to brace for change. Most of us will need to reskill in one way or another – those who are adaptable will be the most successful. For example, Ikea recently automated 50% of its incoming customer calls and retrained 8,500 call centre staff as interior design consultants – this is an excellent example of upskilling and transition to develop revenue streams rather than just using AI as a cost-saving method.
Indeed, in the next five years, AI will create more jobs than it displaces, and the lag in skills development will cause the most significant friction in the market. This revolution is far faster than any in history – it will increase productivity, which has flatlined in recent years.
Companies looking to adopt AI face several challenges, including education, trust issues, a skills gap, and the risks of bias, security, and privacy. Good governance is essential to manage these challenges effectively.
Generative AI, the kind used in photography and copywriting, indicates that creative fields are no longer immune. But with this disruption comes opportunity. This isn't to say that jobs are evaporating; they're evolving. Remember when calculators seemed ground-breaking and would replace the entire accountancy industry? The importance now lies in adaptability. Here's how you can ensure your place in the AI-driven future:
Get AI literate: Those who don't will not be as productive as those who do, and the gap will become evident. The good news is that LLMs are, by their nature, easy to use and access. Candidates should become familiar with the capabilities of AI tools and learn how to use them in their day-to-day work and personal lives. There are plenty of reputable resources such as Google Cloud Skills Boost and Career Essentials in Generative AI by Microsoft and LinkedIn which can kick-start the process. Candidates will also need to demonstrate an awareness of its limitations and risks. At Goldman Sachs developers are using AI to write as much as 45% of their code, for example, so developers will need AI as a critical skill as it becomes a fundamental requirement to augment their role. AI will be integrated into all aspects of MS Office as Microsoft 365 Copilot, so using AI will become another default requirement, just like sending an email has now become.
Continued learning and human skills: As AI evolves, candidates should focus on continuous skill development through online resources and courses. In a landscape where AI tools may become ubiquitous, soft skills (or “human” skills, as you might know them) like leadership, creativity, and empathy will become even more critical for differentiation.
Use AI as a tool, not a crutch: Treat AI as a useful work tool, much in the way we have all used Google Search up until now. It can shoulder much of your groundwork but, pay attention to human oversight. Using AI for brainstorming during a job search? Good. Relying solely on AI for your CV? Not advisable.
The landscape of technology and work is changing. From the potential of pairing conversational AI with Elon Musk's humanoid robots to the shifts in traditional job roles, it's an era of rapid evolution. The question isn't, "How do I kickstart my career in AI?" but "How do I leverage AI to enhance my career?"
Whether you're just starting or looking to pivot into the tech realm, remember that the combination of AI and human potential is formidable. The future is a blend of technology and human intuition, and at Hays, we're here to guide you through it.
Intelligent Automation Director, Hays Technology
Tim worked in digital transformation for 20 years developing solutions to improve user journeys and experience for blue chip clients. More recently he grew the UK’s largest RPA CoE and went on to specialise in helping organisations overcome their barriers to scaling automation. He is a thought leader and evangelist for Intelligent Automation, and leads the IA Consulting specialism for Hays.