What the AI “Revolution” Means For You and Your Career

Oriol Lavado
Oct 30, 2017 · 6 min read
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Like you, I’ve been consuming lots of articles, books, and videos on Artifical Intelligence. I’m victim of the media hype we are in. We are all contributing to this, either as publishers, consumers or active key players. This isn’t good or bad, it’s what it is. What matters is the level of comprehension you acquire, understand what that means to you and what you are going to do with that TODAY.

In the 90s, some people around me were saying that Internet just had a lot of “hype” and it would go away. I was 13 by then. I was just using it. I was doing things with that. I wasn’t realizing that it would mark my future career as a teacher first, web developer and business owner later.

Looking back, I understand now those who thought that Internet was just “fashionable”. That was just denial of people in their 40s and above who had stable jobs. In sociology, they would be called the Late Majority adopters or the Laggards as described in the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. They didn’t have an opinion about it, at least not positive. All of them are now in Facebook and Instagram posting selfies :)

I get it. Internet was to them what AI is somewhat to me. Artificial Intelligence wasn’t part of my life when I grew up, I didn’t study it (ok, maybe I studied Control Theory on my degree, which isn’t remotely the same, but it’s something), and I didn’t use it.

It’s very difficult to understand something when you don’t see what it’s capable of by yourself.

Nowadays Internet is not even a skill, it’s a commodity. Similarly, AI will be available everywhere. This revolution isn’t a hype, it’s already happening and there’s no excuse to start learning how to use it to your advantage.

Ok, let’s move on…

There are 2 main reasons why you should take massive action to understand and use AI: its massive impact on society and its unprecedented rapid growth.

Unprecedented growth

AI field didn’t really take off until the blossoming of Deep Learning thanks to the access to large amounts of data and the increasing computational power.

It’s important to understand that on one end, technology has more or less followed Moore’s law until now, doubling computational power every two years, while on Internet the amount of data we create it is doubling in size also every two years. In fact, some predict we’ll be reaching 44 zettabytes or 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020. In short, we are experiencing exponential growth.

On the other end, we have significant disruptions in technology that might make these numbers irrelevant or a rather pessimistic forecast:

I was especially inspired watching Ray Kurzweil explaining better than anyone the acceleration we are going to experiment in his TED Talk.

What you should infer by now is that we can’t anticipate the speed of progress we are going to experience in the coming 10 years. Tweet this!

Bottom line is that with such acceleration in technology, AI capabilities to learn, and the speed at which it can be done, might outpace our ability to understand it and therefore anticipate its real potential.

Worldwide, ubiquitous and therefore massive impact

Automation and AI, are impacting most of the industries already. This will impose possibly the biggest stretch in society in the coming years. Let me walk you through this with some facts.

In U.S. productivity is no longer tied to labor force rate since the 80s. Profits have been outpacing job growth in the largest corporations by several points in the last years and Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts, just in the Manufacturing industry, a drop of 1M jobs by 2026 only in U.S.

I think it’s important to have this clear: Productivity doesn’t correlate with labor force rate. Automation though, boost it.

As an evidence of what’s coming and according to the International Federation of Robotics, by the end of 2017 the production of robots would have increased 12%, beating the mark of $5 billion dollars, and it’s expected to have an average growth of 20–25% between the period 2018–2020.

Networked, automated, artificial intelligence applications and robotics will be responsible for a massive destruction of jobs in virtually any industry.

The concept of safe and not-safe jobs, will get blurry very quickly, at a pace you can’t ignore. Tweet this!

The big question here is whether we’ll be able to create new kind of jobs at the same pace and our ability to see how to use AI toour advantage!

The creation of a basic wage for whoever isn’t employed to cover basic needs, the introduction of new taxes for robots as Bill Gates has suggested, are just some examples of the decisions that we’ll also have to make at a macro level to decide how to adjust to the new reality, accelerating or decelerating towards the inevitable.

There is literally no excuse not to get started with AI

I hope that by the end of this article you start getting why Machine Learning should soon be part of your resume. Good news, it’s easier than ever!

The entry barriers are getting lower, with companies like Google creating video content to offer an entry level into basic concepts and other e-learning platforms offering full programs to get started as AI engineer.

This is a time of big demand and very low supply. It’s a great opportunity.

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Like those who were skeptical about Internet in the 90s, don’t fall into denial. It’s not only a matter of survival but about focusing on all the positive aspects of this revolution. If you stop for a second on all the things we can achieve, just in our lifetime, it is a very exciting period. If you think about it, AI is fundamental and necessary to take our species to the next level, whether that is reaching the stars or at least become a unique tribe. The world is not waiting for you and, believe me, you want to be part of that.

Start with something, read a blog (like this one), watch videos on youtube, sign up in Coursera and get started on Machine Learning… just get started and do it NOW.

So, what does that mean for you? You have to make a conscious decision whether to be a spectator, an actor or a victim in this big revolution we are facing. Hope I inspired you enough to take action on this!

Please drop a comment and let me know what your thoughts are. What actions have you taken so far? What are your thoughts on AI? I’ll be very happy to answer them all ;)


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Oriol Lavado

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Leading product core teams @Bookingcom. Engineer, developer & AI advocate. Marathon finisher. Love talking about AI, leadership and self-development.

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