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6 skills you need to stand out in the age of AI
If you make a concerted effort to understand and develop these skills, you’ll be ready to take advantage of the opportunities found in the digital world of work.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer something that we’re expecting to happen in the future. It’s firmly embedded into the world of today, usually quietly powering the tools and services we rely on daily. We benefit from it when we search for information on Google, watch movies on Netflix, shop on Amazon, or hail a ride with Uber.
Occasionally, it gets a little more in-your-face as happened recently when apps like ChatGPT and Dall-E burst onto the scene. These generative AI applications have made it possible for anyone to put AI to work, and while the current iterations may be limited in their output, it’s enough for those in some industries to start looking over their shoulders at what’s to come.
Just exactly how these technological wonders of the AI age will affect our jobs, businesses, and professional lives is still unknown. But what is generally agreed upon is that those who can leverage the power of AI to assist with their tasks and responsibilities—particularly at this early stage in its evolution—will be best placed to thrive in the face of the oncoming wave of disruption.
This requires an understanding of the potential of this technology and how it relates to your profession or industry, and a concerted effort to develop the skill sets that ensure you’re ready to take advantage of the opportunities found in the digital world of work. Here are six skills to get started.
Becoming digitally literate starts with understanding the basics necessary to be able to work with technology with confidence from being able to switch on a computer, surf the internet, and create and log into accounts to using collaborative working platforms with teams.
It also includes understanding the fast-moving world of technology and keeping abreast of the latest trends, including how AI is being implemented across your own industry and how your coworkers or competitors are using it to drive value. Basic digital literacy is needed to enable you to select the right tools to solve a given challenge, tackle any problems that might arise, and understand the results you’ve managed to achieve.
Data is the fuel that drives AI. By crunching through digital information, machine learning algorithms learn more about the world we live in and become increasingly accurate at making predictions. This throws up a few challenges, the most obvious one being that AI trained on bad data is likely to be useless or, worse, dangerous.
In the AI age, people with data skills are play a pivotal role in developing an understanding of what information AI-powered machines need, where it can be found, and how they can use it. To become more data literate, you can take advantage of the many free online courses available on statistical analysis, data visualization, and data interpretation. By combining these courses with practical experience analyzing real-world data, anyone can develop the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively work with data.
DIGITAL THREAT AWARENESS
Every time technology takes a leap forward, we inevitably expose ourselves to new vulnerabilities, and the onset of the AI era is no different. We’ve seen how deepfaked videos can convince people they are watching real footage of Tom Cruise or Barack Obama. And there have been instances of voices being synthesized using AI to carry out fraud and phishing attacks.
Industries are facing a massive shortfall in the number of cybersecurity professionals needed to effectively counter existing threats—let alone these emerging ones. Therefore, developing skills in the field of AI-related threat detection and evasion—as well as honing your basic cybersecurity awareness—is a great way to ensure you’re in possession of a future-proofed skill set.
One surprising thing that’s become apparent about the new wave of AI tools, such as ChatGPT, is that they are surprisingly easy to trick. Proof can be seen by the speed with which work-arounds have been found for inbuilt safeguards designed to prevent them from giving harmful or dangerous advice. This is generally because AI, at the moment, lacks any true critical thinking abilities. It tends to simply blindly follow orders and regurgitate information it’s been fed with.
Critical thinking is one of the human abilities that lets us counter and mitigate the bias that’s often displayed by AI, enabling us to steer it towards better decision-making. Being a critical thinker encourages us to ask questions, identify gaps in information, and form our own opinions—all actions that are critical aspects of many jobs and highly desirable traits for future leaders.
As we’ve covered, we’re calling the new breed of AI tools “generative” AI because it’s capable of coming up with new stuff. Well, that’s what it looks like, at least. It would be more accurate to say that tools like ChatGPT and Dall-E are capable of stitching together elements of things that already exist in order to come up with something that seems new.
But true creativity—the spark that’s a combination of invention, expression, experience, and personality—is still an exclusively human ability. Creativity brings ideas to life and drives us to consider the possibilities of a better, different world—and those able to harness it will continue to be valued for a long time to come.
CURIOSITY AND CONTINUOUS LEARNING
Machines don’t want to learn. They learn because we tell them to. If there is one skill (and I say skill rather than trait because it can be learned) I would encourage in everyone, it’s to foster the ability to continually question the world around us and develop a ferocious appetite for new information. Bringing human drive, passion, and appetite to our work is one way to ensure we won’t be left in the dust by intelligent machines, and that we feel motivated to optimize our usefulness and efficiency by combining the best of what it is to be human, with the speed and power of a new generation of intelligent, learning machines.