When you think of the phrase ‘Artificial Intelligence’, what comes to mind? A few years ago, it most likely would have been a dystopian science fiction novel or a futuristic video game. With huge technological advancements in recent years, however, it’s clear that Artificial Intelligence is not just fiction – it’s fast becoming a reality. This has led to growing concerns about the negative impact it could have on us, and our jobs.

Artificial Intelligence

First Things First: What Exactly is Artificial Intelligence?

While the answer to this question could fill a blog post of its own, we’ll try to keep it as concise as possible.

AI involves creating and developing machines and software that can perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as speech recognition and decision making. AI learns from experience and previous data using a process called deep learning.

Natural language processing is just one of the areas in which AI has made leaps and bounds, which is why smart speakers such as Amazon Echo are getting better and better at understanding us. There have also been significant advancements in narrow artificial intelligence, whereby a machine performs a given task better than a human does. This type of intelligence is concerned with one particular task, which is often structured and repetitive – dissimilar from the more general artificial intelligence often depicted in science fiction.

AI has spread to numerous areas of our lives, some of which we may not even be aware. Take your Netflix and Amazon recommendations, for example – that’s the work of AI. What you see on your social media feeds and the notifications you receive from social media platforms – all influenced by AI.

What Impact Will This Have on My Job?

While we certainly haven’t created a machine with the intelligence level of many of the androids depicted in movies and video games, we have developed certain aspects of AI to the extent that it has already made a significant impact on many workplaces.

A survey by Gartner found that 37% of enterprises now use AI – this is an increase of 270% in the last four years. (Source: Gartner)

AI is quickly encroaching on certain fields, for example customer service. By 2020, a projected 85% of interactions with customers will be managed without a human, therefore chatbots will take over a large share of work in the customer service field. (Source: The Innovation Enterprise)

The rising usage of virtual AI assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana certainly makes it seem as though the roles of human assistants could eventually be at risk, too.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to be worried about being replaced by a machine any time soon.

In his book ‘Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence’, physicist Max Tegmark provides advice for future-proofing your job. His recommendation is to avoid roles with repetitive tasks and opt for professions that involve using innovation and creativity, communicating with other people and dealing with unpredictable environments. (Source: Irish Times)

Sound familiar? That’s because these are all traits inherent to the role of an assistant.

Working with people is a fundamental aspect of the job. The emotional intelligence required as an assistant is something that machines simply cannot replicate. Building strong relationships with your boss, colleagues, and clients and forming a mutually supportive network is key to helping you strive in your career, and helping the organisation’s effectiveness. Likewise, empathising with others and understanding how emotions affect behaviour and performance at work will make you a better employee and co-worker.

Using creativity to solve problems and deal with the unpredictable nature of the role is another important aspect of this profession.

Assistants also need to be prepared to execute any task that is thrown at them. Flexibility is an essential trait of any good assistant, and as machines have only been developed to use narrow artificial intelligence (i.e. carrying out one set task), this is another area in which technology won’t be outrunning us any time soon.

What’s more, Ben Pring, co-founder of Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, advises that only certain tasks within roles ‘are likely to be automated’. (Source: monster.com) This means that AI will most likely just take over certain more repetitive aspects of your role, leaving you free to concentrate on other, more important tasks.

Our Tips for Embracing AI in Your Career:

The influx of artificial intelligence into the workplace may feel like a cause for concern, however, it’s a great tool to have in your arsenal.

Artificial IntelligenceTo get you started, here are just some programmes and software that you may find useful in your role:

Virtual Assistants such as Apple’s Siri will help you quickly complete internet searches, set a reminder in your calendar, or make a phone call, all while barely lifting a finger.

‘Respondable’ from Boomerang uses AI to suggest improvements for your emails as you write them.

Any assistant knows that dealing with highly sensitive information is part and parcel of their job. ‘CheckRecipient’ is a software tool that will prevent this information from being emailed to the incorrect address by analysing previous email data.

‘Spoke’ allows organisations to create a knowledge base that the programme will then use to answer employees’ questions regarding anything from paid time off to computer troubleshooting – similar to a chatbot.

Hotailors allows users to submit, review, and expense business trips efficiently.

Eva by Voicea will provide a transcript of your conference calls and meetings for you, as well as audio and video recordings. You can use voice commands and customisable trigger words to highlight specific ideas and actions.

As Artificial Intelligence is such a complicated and vast subject matter, you don’t need to get too bogged down in all the details, however, be sure to research any programmes or software that you may use, to ensure that it is the right fit for you, your job and the organisation.

There are also some great resources on the net that will help you stay on top of trends and news in the world of AI.

For example, Adobe and Forbes provide insightful articles, and Gartner’s surveys offer some excellent insights into AI trends. Wired.com is another great resource to help keep up to date.

So yes, the robots are coming, but we advise you to use them to your advantage!