How to keep your job in the age of AI

Artificial Intelligence is a wonderful thing: It saves us time when booking flights, helps streamline customer service and it’s set to revolutionize the future of driving. Heck, it’s what put us here in the first place – and we’re pretty great. Whether or not you’ve already embraced AI, it’s safe to say it’s going to be around for a while.

Like any disruptive technology that came before it, AI’s promise to solving a variety of problems is inseparable from the fact it’s bound to create new ones. Even just looking at the examples above of industries where robots have already penetrated, we’re certain to face more challenges in regulation, consumption and competition as AI is perfected. Not to mention, more tasks completed by AI means fewer tasks will be completed by humans. Yes, that includes you.

Should you be scared?

Surely, not every human role is up for grabs in an AI world, right? Sorta, and that’s where you need to do some research. Let’s say you’re a kindergarten teacher; maybe the warmth and compassion you extend to your classroom can’t be replicated by a machine (for the time being), but there are aspects of your job that a computer could do much quicker and better, making fewer mistakes along the way: From a lunch-serving robot that has infallible attention to allergies and dietary restrictions to a staggeringly efficient machine monitoring several safety hazards simultaneously.

Similar examples can be drawn for programmers, attorneys, construction workers, brokers, medical staff and even creatives, all of whom may soon see significant portions of their jobs automated. From there, the road to redundancy is long, but it only goes in one direction. Instead of becoming discouraged or trying to develop super-human attention to detail, stamina and response time, it’s best to take a more thoughtful approach. Map the areas where AI is potentially going to move in on your turf, and brace for impact.

Go on the offense

Review and hone your skills in time, to avoid becoming a casualty. If you’re a cashier, this probably means finding another career sooner rather than later, but even highly skilled jobs are at risk of redundancy, including paralegals, nurses and financial advisors (sorry, not sorry). For them, it’s all about focusing on particular skills that are not yet within the tech’s reach.

Essentially, we recommend undergoing a reskilling process: Gradually acquiring new skills that have a lower potential of being automated in the near future. Most experts point to complex problem solving as a function well outside the scope of machines, and to become truly great at this you’ll need a mix of flexibility, experience, and know-how. If you’re a teacher, this means using empathy to diffuse various situations; if you’re a realtor, it’ll be best to sharpen your negotiation skills. If you’re a judge, you’re good.

The many upsides

We promise it’s not all bad. An AI-enabled world holds promise for society and individuals: New jobs, new training methods, and new practices are all bound to come into play in the coming decades. AI is also forecasted to elevate the playing field for humans, now that most menial, repetitive tasks will be taken care of. Most importantly, alleviation from these tasks could decrease burnout, contribute to more sound work-life balance, and open doors to more fulfilling careers. Ultimately, AI stands to shine a light on the unique, intrinsic value of human work – have something to show for it.