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The Future is Female: The Need for Women in a World with AI

15.01.2018

CES 2018 has been the talk of the town, and rightly so, given it has vocalizing myriad modern concerns in tech and business. From AI to VR, tech to marketing, little was left uncovered. While CES closed on 12th January for the year, the session “The Future of Work for both Humans and Machines” spearheaded by Evelyn Remaley from the U.S Department of Communications, Ned Finkle of NVIDIA and Bridget Karlin, CTO of IBM has addressed the growing anxiety in the world about jobs being at the mercy of the increasing reliance on AI.

The AI market, one that is expected to grow by over 167% in 2018[1], has disrupted industries already but the panelists recommend welcoming rather than fearing the change. This perspective has been echoed by many, including Elisabeth Moreno of Lenovo France who, at the Women’s Forum Global Meeting 2017 said “, Instead of fearing technology, we should think about how to embrace the change. Each time you see a change in society, you see opportunities.”

Karen Tay, Smart Nation Director (North America) at the Singapore Prime Minister’s Office, and a Rising Talent alumni of the Women’s Forum, has explained that the challenge really becomes whether one can reskill oneself in time. Tay, as well as the panelists at CES argue that while technology has constantly existed, it is rather the speed of transformation that concerns the current workforce about the validity and necessity of their jobs in the foreseeable future where they will be outpaced by technology. While this is a possibility, one must consider that the future workforce will be developed in a manner where the strengths of man and tech can be juxtaposed to increase productivity. Scientists, for example, will find new jobs as the reliance on data becomes more prominent.

The need for tech in realms of cybersecurity, privacy and data are undeniable as Bridget Karlin gives the example of how AI is used to resolve issues through Watson at IBM. Not only do they harness its potential to keep the IT infrastructure healthy, but also to identify insights by allowing Watson to analyze patterns and trends in data.

These are considerations made by local and national governments as well, as suggested by Evelyn Remaley. Policy makers are currently attempting to find a balance, trying to harness the power of AI without compromising employment rates and opportunities. Schools are beginning to incorporate these changes, whether it is through apprenticeship programmes such as P.Tech by IBM or through the simple inclusion of coding on syllabuses. While the development of careers and jobs through the increasing reliance on tech is yet awaited, existing job opportunities see a shift in importance.

What is interesting, is that while the reliance on AI is due to take its toll on existing job profiles, a recent article published by Quartz states the increasing need for Emotional Intelligence in the same. Given the restriction of AI capabilities, it is what makes us most human that is expected to help us thrive in the future in the increasing availability of positions ranging from psychotherapy to management. The article links this to Matias Cortes’s York University study whose results “suggest that the increasing demand for interpersonal skills is something that favors women … So if this is a trend going forward—if we think that AI will increase the need for social skills—then this may be beneficial for women, because they really have a comparative advantage there.”

It seems it is imperative for women to find increasing support in the science, technology, engineering and management sectors, given their capacity in light of future changes. While shifting possibilities in terms of employment can be jarring, the opportunities must be recognized and women accommodated. The demand for these skills allows for the bridging of a gap, one we hope will be recognized and encouraged by businesses and industries alike to create a future that is both powered by women and empowering to women.

 

[1] Source: Tractica. "Growth of The Artificial Intelligence (Ai) Market Worldwide, from 2017 to 2025." Statista - The Statistics Portal, Statista, www.statista.com/statistics/607960/worldwide-artificial-intelligence-market-growth/, Accessed 12 Jan 2018