In this Article, you’ll learn what you should be doing today to prepare for the coming wave of AI-enabled automation. You’ll learn how AI will impact you, your career, and our world.
More importantly, I’ll provide you with practical advice on how to prepare for these changes today. But first, let’s begin with a quick story. Over the past few millennia, humanity has gone though several major technological revolutions. Around 10,000 years ago, we entered the agricultural revolution.
This revolution lead to new agricultural technologies like farming, the plow, and the wheel. As a result, agricultural societies spread from the cradle of civilization to the ends of the Earth. Around 250 years ago, we entered the industrial revolution.
This revolution lead to new industrial technologies like steam power, the factory, and electricity. As a result, industrial societies flourished and spread across the globe. Less than 100 years ago, we entered the information revolution. This revolution lead to new information technologies like telecommunications, electronic computers, and digital information.
As a result, high-tech societies prospered as they spread across the globe and into cyberspace. With each of these technology revolutions, human society was radically transformed over a relatively short period of time. With each revolution we saw a wellspring of new technologies that had never existed before.
And with each revolution there were those who prepared and thrived in the new world and there were those who were unprepared and become redundant, unemployable, or obsolete. Today we are entering the next major revolution in human history: the Artificial Intelligence revolution.
Just like the previous technology revolutions, we will likely see a fundamental transformation of our economy, our society, and our world. We will likely see a wellspring of new AI-enabled technologies. And there some people who will prepare and thrive in the new world and others who will not prepare and will become redundant, unemployable, and obsolete.
The purpose of this brief course is to answer the following question: “What should I do *today* to prepare for the coming wave of AI-enabled automation?” What should you be doing right now to prepare as we enter the next major technology revolution? However, I don’t want to provide you with a bunch of “pie in the sky” wishful thinking.
I want to provide you with advice that’s specific, actionable, timely, and pragmatic. Advice that you can put to good use today to ensure your success through the AI tech revolution and beyond. To answer this question, I will provide you with the following five recommendations:
- Educate yourself about AI,
- Upgrade your career for AI,
- Invest in an AI-first economy,
- Use AI responsibly and ethically,
and adapt to what comes next or become obsolete. With each step we’ll go a bit wider in scope
and longer in our timescale. By the end of this course, you’ll know what you should be doing, *today*, to prepare for the coming wave of AI-enabled automation.
Before we get into the practical advice, I want to make sure that we’re all on the same page about what artificial intelligence is and what it isn’t?
So what is AI?
Artificial intelligence is a field of computer science that attempts to create machines that act rationally in response to their environment. An AI is any machine that perceives it’s environment and chooses actions that maximize the likelihood of achieving a goal of some kind.
Essentially, an AI is just a machine that takes data as input and produces the best possible output given what it currently knows. Some examples of AI include:
- computers that can play chess,
- robots that can vacuum your floor,
- non-player characters in video games,
- and navigation software on your smart phone.
Any computer algorithm that replicates some aspect of human intelligence or natural intelligence is essentially a form of artificial intelligence. Now, when I say “artificial intelligence”, many of you will immediately think of sentient robots like:
- Data from Star Trek,
- or HAL 9000?
This is what we refer to as Artificial General Intelligence or “general AI”. General AI can solve a wide variety of general-purpose problems. It’s a type of futuristic AI that doesn’t currently exist today. In fact, it will likely be several decades before we reach this level of highly flexible and adaptable AI.
However, this is the direction that things are moving and the eventual goal of many AI research projects. On the other hand, many of you will think of modern AI like:
- IBM’s Watson,
- Amazon Alexa,
- or Google’s self-driving car?
This is what we call Artificial Narrow Intelligence or “narrow AI”. Narrow AI is focused on solving a very narrow set of specific problems. It’s the type of AI that exists today.
The type of AI that we’re going to be talking about during this course. However, it’s also the type of AI that will likely revolutionize our world over the next few decades. It might surprise some of you that artificial
intelligence has been around for quite some time.
In fact, the field of AI dates all the way back to the 1950s. In the past, we had some machines that were
capable of making rational decisions. However, they had to be explicitly programmed to make these decisions and they could only operate successfully in very constrained environments. There was a lot of hype about what artificial intelligence would eventually be able to do.
Many experts predicted that machines would soon replace all human labor but it never happened. By the end of the ’90s, machines couldn’t even solve basic general-purpose tasks that even a toddler could solve.
The inflated hype about the potential of AI and subsequent disillusionment when it never happened led to what we now referred to as the AI Winters. Multiple periods between the late ’70s into the early 2000s where funding for AI had almost entirely dried up. However, by the mid 2000s the last AI Winter had ended and things started to warm up again.
Today, AI is booming because of recent advances in machine learning, deep learning, and reinforcement learning. In fact, modern AI is largely build upon these three data-driven approaches. These advances are largely the result of four changes that have occurred over the past few decades:
- We now have a tremendous amount of data available.
- We now have significantly more compute power available.
- We now have much better algorithms for training AI models.
- And we now have a much more disciplined approach to AI
— a data-science approach.
If these trends continue, in the near future, AI will likely become even more lucrative as it begins to disrupt almost every industry imaginable.
So, to quickly recap: What is AI?
An AI is any machine that can act rationally in response to it’s environment. We’re talking specifically about “narrow AI”, which can solve only a very limited set of problems. And it’s an industry that’s been through various cycles of booms and busts largely based on the ratio of hype vs. real-world applications.
Total creator. General coffe buff. Award-winning internet trailblazer. Devoted tv practitioner. Gamer. Communicator. Travel fan. AI and machine learning are everyday!