In a world where everyone is becoming nervous that a robot will take our jobs – and the anxiety around AI at work is only heightening as more tech rolls out every day. But here’s the question: is the reality that this is just a classic case of disrupt or be disrupted? How can GenZ become the AI disruptor in an increasingly hard-to-land job market?
Women Love Tech talked to Jacqueline Ann DeStefano, who recently took courses at MIT on reskilling in Generative AI, about this trend.
Tell us about your background and interest in AI?
It all began with a creative exploration. In the summer of 2022, while working on my upcoming poetry book, ai can feel, I stumbled upon Midjourney to generate the illustrations for the book based on my own poems. Here I was, encountering a generative model in the creative realm for the first time, and it was nothing short of fascinating. That brief interaction sparked a wildfire of curiosity in me. I found ChatGPT when it was still a bit of a hidden gem–I actually first heard about it because of a Midjourney group on social media that I am a part of. Artists were blown away using it to help them write incredible prompts for Midjourney to produce novel images. After I worked with it, I completely knew that this technology was going to change the world we live in, very fast.
My journey has been a winding one between business, technology and literature, holding an MBA and NYS CPA license, diving deep into AI and machine learning at MIT, and nurturing my passion for poetry with two book publications, and a third due in August 2023. For me, the real twist came when I figured out how to harness generative AI not only to pursue a passion but also to scale my business (Omni Business Intelligence Solutions (OBIS)) on Upwork. The discovery was that I learned it isn’t just a game-changer; it transforms everything.
Is AI coming for our jobs?
Yes, but also no. I would say to picture this revolution happening as sort of an AI earthquake, where the very foundations of how we work, think, and function are being reshaped. Inevitably, there are those who find themselves precariously placed right on the fault lines. For these individuals, the risk of falling into the emerging cracks of this seismic change is all too real. However, it’s essential to remember that while the ground may shake, it doesn’t mean one has to fall without recourse. There are lifelines available—tools and strategies that can be wielded to navigate this new terrain. Top among these resources is an education in AI and a solid grasp of engineering principles. But beyond the technical, it’s equally vital to foster a spirit of creativity and adaptability. It’s about understanding, anticipating, and moulding oneself to the myriad ways this AI revolution will touch, transform, and, in some cases, overturn established norms. The earthquake might be inevitable, but with the right preparation, resilience in the face of this change is within reach.
We’re standing at the nexus of technological advancement and job market fluctuations. The rapid growth of AI technology, undeniably, is reshaping our job landscape. But equipped with education on AI’s nuances and an adaptive mindset, we can navigate this changing tide. Let’s look at some hard numbers to understand the scope: The media industry has felt these tremors acutely. In 2023 alone, the industry reported 17,436 job cuts, marking the highest year-to-date figure ever. This is a rise of roughly 4% from the previous peak in 2020, which saw 16,750 cuts by May of that year. The news sector, a subset of media, has reported 1,972 cuts this year, already surpassing the total 1,808 cuts of 2022 by around 9%. The percentages might seem minimal, but they represent real people and significant shifts in a foundational industry. As we traverse this AI-augmented era, it’s imperative to remember that while some jobs might be redefined or displaced by AI, there will always be potential for new roles and avenues. (Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.)
AI offers many career opportunities for those ready to adapt. Firstly, understanding AI and its engineering is vital. This includes roles like AI systems engineers who build AI solutions, AI ethicists who focus on ethical AI use, and AI trainers who improve models with human feedback. Alongside technical skills, human creativity is essential. This leads to roles such as AI conceptual designers who think of new AI uses, change management specialists who help businesses adjust to AI, and creativity consultants who help companies stay innovative. Diversifying one’s skills is also important. Skills that AI can’t replicate, like creativity and emotional intelligence, are valuable. This can lead to roles like prompt engineers who make AI inputs, human-AI interaction designers, and emotional intelligence coaches. Building connections through networking and mentorship can open doors to roles like AI community managers or AI collaboration brokers who create industry partnerships. It’s also smart to regularly assess your career direction. New roles like automated restaurant managers, AI health technicians, and AI integration specialists show AI’s wide reach. Lastly, always seek feedback and adjust. Roles like AI course developers, skills auditors, or AI feedback analysts help professionals stay updated in the AI field.
What are the future trends in generative AI?
In the evolving landscape of generative AI, several key trends are surfacing. Foremost is the tailored identification of use cases for specific businesses, with the potential for scalability across various sectors and industries. The prioritization of these use cases often adheres to the “Triple A Factor” of automation, augmentation, and acceleration. With these advancements, there’s a significant emphasis on the need for robust AI hardware to support the increasing demands of generative models. Ensuring the smooth operation of these expansive AI systems is like maintaining a well-oiled machine, a task drawing considerable attention and resources. Silicon Valley startups operating in this domain are attracting notable venture capital backing. However, with AI’s growth comes challenges, including heightened data risk and privacy concerns, pushing for the creation of AI regulatory frameworks. These need international collaboration for standardization and effectiveness. This AI wave is also reshaping traditional job roles, signaling a potential shift in professions like online tutors and copywriters, as automation becomes more prevalent.
How do we deal with unconscious bias with AI? How will it affect us?
Unconscious bias in AI is a pressing concern, as it can skew results, leading to unfair practices and even reinforcing societal biases. Addressing this necessitates a solid AI governance framework complete with risk management strategies that actively identify and counteract potential biases. To enhance trust in AI, it’s crucial to enforce regulatory measures and prioritize transparency regarding data usage. Moving on from the often-criticized “black box” approach of machine learning, we should advocate for a “glass box” model. This shift would allow users and stakeholders to understand the contributing factors and logic behind AI outputs, fostering greater confidence in the technology.
How can we compete in this new world and better prepare for the future?
In this AI-centric era, staying competitive demands continuous adaptation, innovation, and upskilling. Businesses and individuals must pinpoint relevant AI applications, craft effective solutions, and seamlessly embed them into their operations. Leveraging resources such as OBIS’ webinars, personalized training, and coaching sessions can aid in this upskilling journey. To truly future-proof oneself, it’s vital to adopt a long-term vision, prioritize data security and privacy, and cultivate an ethos of perpetual learning and innovation.
How can GenZ become the AI disruptor in an increasingly hard-to-land job market?
To stand out in a fiercely competitive job market, Gen Z can position themselves as AI disruptors by diving deep into AI’s expansive opportunities, including avenues like prompt engineering. By mastering AI’s practical applications and pairing it with inherently human skills like creativity, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence, they can craft distinctive value propositions. This blend of tech-savviness and human touch can pave their unique path in the job market. Utilizing platforms like Upwork further offers them a chance to amass real-world experience and showcase their prowess in AI-driven projects.
In this informative article by Margaret Lilani, VP of Talent Solutions at Upwork, there is a powerful quote that says it all: ”Generative AI has grown so quickly that someone who earned a PhD in machine learning in 2015 might be less skilled at prompt engineering than a recent computer science graduate who’s been immersed in generative AI on the side for the past year.”