Eighty-five million. This is the number of responses that Google offers to the query “Will AI replace IT jobs?”. This idea would have seemed far-fetched just a few years ago. But with the dazzling developments of Artificial Intelligence, doubt invades all professions: will the computer replace human jobs?
If the question arises in all sectors, IT professionals are not immune. Here are four answers:
1. Artificial intelligence will undoubtedly exceed the capabilities of the human brain.
The brain features tremendous capabilities and the way it works remains largely a mystery.
However, the impressive performance of DeepBlue, Watson, AlphaGo and other supercomputers has shown the extraordinary potential of artificial intelligence. The computing power of microprocessors, applied to a large volume of data, can now flutter the brightest human brain. This is true for specific decision making, in pre-established frameworks organized according to clear rules – such as board games.
On the other hand, the human brain still enjoys a clear lead over its digital rival in anything more general, unstructured, abstract, uncertain, that requires creativity, emotion, and empathy. But these forms of intelligence correspond only to a few areas of the frontal lobe, a small part of the brain.
Some experts predict in the coming decades the development of a general artificial intelligence, called “strong” AI, as opposed to weak or specialized AI that we know today. It is therefore not forbidden to think that the capabilities of AI will one day catch up with those of the human brain.
2. The AI will do computer coding.
If there is one area of IT where AI will probably replace some of the human work, it is software coding.
The title of a research paper from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, affiliated with the University of Tennessee, begins with a provocative question: “Will humans still write computer code in 2040?”.
Its authors believe that all technologies that will enable and popularize computer code creation already exist, at least in university research laboratories. It would only be a matter of time to find self-generated code by computers in most applications.
If this prediction comes true, it is a radical change for labor market to experience since the developers have been, since the beginning of the millennium, a rare and sought-after commodity.
3. A technological tool is not a business solution.
Software applications are tools. But even the most complete toolbox can not solve a problem alone: you still must choose the right tools and use them well.
Whatever the business problem, strategic thinking must always precede the choice of technological tools. Only careful analysis upstream can lead to an adequate business solution to solve the problem in an efficient way.
Through its ability to analyze data and to make predictions, AI can guide humans in the choice of tools. But it will not be able to replace their judgment.
4. Technology management will remain a strategy.
Kai-Fu Lee is a leader in the technology industry. A computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, and vice-president successively at Apple, Microsoft and Google, he now runs a venture capital firm in Beijing that manages more than one billion US dollars. Nicknamed “the Oracle of AI” and author of the book AI Superpowers, he explains in an interview on the show 60 minutes that, in fifteen years, 40% of jobs will be replaceable by technology.
What jobs will resist this wave? According to Kai-fu Lee, the complex and strategic jobs will remain reserved for humans, as well as creative jobs and those … that do not exist yet because they will be created by AI!
While coding is, to some extent, a repetitive and predictable task, technology management clearly belongs to complex and strategic functions.
So, even though artificial intelligence will take up more space in organizations and replace certain positions – especially in IT, human intelligence and emotional intelligence, which only the human being demonstrates, will continue to drive IT decisions.
We can not automate everything. Even Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, acknowledged in a tweet to apologize for a problem in the production of Model 3: “The excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. More precisely, my mistake. Humans are underrated.“
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