Pew Research report looks at future of job skills

Many say humans must be personable and adaptable to avoid artificial intelligence takeover.

Multimedia reporting by Emmanuel Morgan

A study released May 3 by the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imaging the Internet Center analyzed the effect artificial intelligence has on the job market and the results may discourage those who read it.

Seventy percent of the 1,408 respondents said they felt the new training programs can educate large sums of workers, effectively slicing job opportunities for those who have spent years in liberal arts fields.  The results from other studies were also not as optimistic.  McKinsey, a global consultant, calculates that the adaptation of currently demonstrated automaton technologies could affect 50 percent of the world economy, or 1.2 billion employees and $14. trillion in wages.

Janna Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center, said in the process of collecting this data, experts were stumped how to create jobs for humans in an automotive future.

Janna Anderson talks about her recent report on artificial intelligence.Video by Emmanuel Morgan

“The vast majority of these experts wrestled with a foundational question, what is special about human being that cannot be overtaken by robots and artificial intelligence?” Anderson said.

The vast majority of these experts wrestled with a foundational question, what is special about human being that cannot be overtaken by robots and artificial intelligence?

Janna Anderson

Director, Imagining the Internet Center

The study said that people entering the workforce must be adaptable, show great judgment, and be resilient, among other things. Because people must be versatile in multiple areas, Anderson said new workers must be accountable to their own learning of new skills.

“Everybody needs to be a jack of  trades,” Anderson said. “It’s not enough to be about to count on Siri or Alexa to answer your questions.
“It’s important for us to be adaptable, to be resilient. to be able to be great leaders understand the technology and be creative and unafraid to move forward into this new age.”
Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.29.50 PM
A total of 1,408 respondents answered this question: In the next ten years, do you tink we will see the emergence of new educational and training programs that can successfully train large numbers of workers in the skills that they will need to perform? Results are listed above. Graphic by Emmanuel Morgan

Having the wherewithal to understand people, be receptive, be emotional, sympathize wth people, empathize with people is something that every person can do. You can’t teach a robot that yet. And until you can, there will always be a job for humans

Ashley Pinney

Associate Director of Corporate and Employer Relations for Elon’s School of Communications

While many said they understand the momentous wave of artificial intelligence approaching, others said they are confident that the intrinsic skills humans already have  are more marketable than the rapid efficiency of a robot. Adam Constantine, social media manager for Elon University, said he feels his job  is secure because he understands personalities. While a computer can easily schedule tweets and social media posts, Constantine said his genuine  ability to read the pulse of the scene can keep him from being unemployed.
“Computers are efficient but they can’t do what a human can do,” Constantine said. “A computer can solve equations but it can not know that a meme can make people laugh so much.
“Computers can dictate numbers but it can not dictate emotions. And because I’m a human and I know how people I feeling, that’s why my job is safe.”

Elon freshman Jordan Vaughn agrees. While she has another three years until she enters the workforce, she said she is trying to educate herself on software and computer skills now to be prepared for what is to come. Still, she says her ability to

Jordan Vaughn.jpg
Freshman Jordan Vaughn said she thinks humans have more personal knowledge about each other and their work than artificial intelligence does. Photo by Emmanuel Morgan

know someone on a personal level gives her an edge over artificial intelligence.

“I know different people’s ticks,” Vaughn said.  “I know that some people may be  upset when people are late. I know that I don’t like when people are talking over each other. That’s something I can keep in tact when we work on a group project and that’s something that a robot won’t understand because all he knows is data.”

Amber McCraw talks about the skills students need to beat artificial intelligence. Video by Emmanuel Morgan

At Elon, career counselors are thinking in that way too  in order to train current students to be marketable in their desired field. While Amber McCraw, assistant director for career services at Elon’ School of Communications, said she knows students already have the majority of skills that artificial intelligence does not, she still wants to teach them the value of personality and approachability.

But to her, this isn’t done through a textbook. She wants to teach them by example.

“Personally, I think I can help students learn those skills  the same way that I do now with class presentations and one on one appointments,” McCraw said. “Just demonstrating those skills myself .And giving the students more opportunities  to network with professionals to demonstrate those soft skills are ways for them to practice can go a long way.”
McCraw works very closely with Ashley Pinney,  associate director of corporate and employer relations for Elon’s School of Communications. It’s wonder they share the same mindset. Pinney’s job allows her to travel extensively with employers, a task she said is beneficial because she can promote Elon students to the. She said she frequently talks with them about the landscape of the job market in the future. And while she said the study released by the Imaging the Internet Center has merit, she is not concerned for students at the moment.
She says artificial intelligence can not replace the human psyche. That’s why humans can work well with them.
“Emotional intelligence —EI — is one thing that employers talk about a lot,” Pinney said.  Having the wherewithal to understand people, be receptive, be emotional, sympathize with people, empathize with people is something that every person can do.  You can’t teach a robot that yet. And until you can, there will always be a job for humans.”
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