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Rise of the machines – How AI will affect your IT job

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are disrupting industries and threating the job security of millions of workers worldwide – and IT jobs are not exempt.

Gartner predicts that by 2022, smart machines and robots may replace highly-trained professionals in tasks within medicine, law, and even IT. Stephen Prentice, vice president and Gartner Fellow, says that “AI will eventually replace many routine functions of the IT organisation, particularly on the operations side”.

IT jobs that will be affected by AI

The roles of systems administrators and network administrators, for example, are likely to be largely affected by AI – as tasks like server configuration and software updates become automated. AI will also be able to effectively monitor networks, and initiate preventative action against problems before they arise.

Many of the manual tasks performed by storage administrators can also be handled by AI and automation tools. These can analyse large volumes of data and have proven better than humans at optimising storage for I/O patterns, managing the data lifecycle, and predicting hardware failures.

Gartner also lists project managers as one of the IT job titles at risk of being replaced – at least partially – by AI. This is because project managers spend a lot of time collecting and inputting data, allocating resources, and setting up schedules, which are tasks that AI could better handle. Project managers also estimate how long projects will take and how much they will cost, which machine learning tools could do more accurately and effectively.

Data analysts, database administrators, security administrators, and tech support are at risk as well, Even the very engineers designing AI are not safe from AI taking over their jobs, thanks to the advances in machine learning.

Future-proofing your career

Many IT jobs are likely to be augmented by AI rather than replaced by it, however. Experts argue that the introduction of AI will serve to improve jobs rather than render them obsolete, by taking over mundane, repetitive work, and allowing human employees to focus on improving service levels and handling the more challenging aspects of their roles.

“Some roles will disappear, but AI will improve some skills shortages, and the IT organisation as a whole will increasingly focus on more creative work that differentiates the enterprise,” says Prentice.

He adds that a balance is required between AI and human skills, as too much AI-driven automation will make enterprises less flexible and less able to adjust to a changing competitive landscape.

“Although AI has been taking over many of the traditional-style jobs in the past, they do leave room for growth in creating new kinds of opportunities in which humans can supply complimentary digital services,” says Christian Mouton, the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) of Wunderman South Africa.

To become “future-ready”, organisations will need to look into emerging areas in AI and other advanced technologies that can create a competitive advantage and generate value.

“Individuals will need to create their own framework in determining and evaluating which skills will be needed and which skills to disinvest in. Only then can we truly adapt to working with AI,” says Mouton.

That all said, Artificial Intelligence and Automation in its current form have not reached the levels as depicted in works of fiction like Detroit: Become Human. We aren’t at the level of having Androids replace human beings for emotional connections but this may soon happen.

Humans aren’t ready for androids

Despite the opportunities presented by AI, a social experiment by Sony indicates that humans are overwhelmingly distrustful of androids.

To mark the release of the PlayStation 4-exclusive game Detroit: Become Human, which questions what it means to “be human”, an actor was modelled into one of the game’s CyberLife Androids and offered to walk a dog and order coffee for the dog’s owner.

Many of those interviewed during the experiment expressed concern around the prospect of androids helping with everyday tasks.

“I think there are some risks, but I see a lot of possible applications for it,” said one women who was interviewed as part of the experiment. “Although, we might be creating the species that replaces us.”

Detroit: Become Human

Much like Sony’s experiment, Detroit: Become Human looks at how humans would react if confronted with a new form of intelligence, and how androids would be perceived if they had emotions.

Developed by Quantic Dream in partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, Detroit: Become Human is set in Detroit City during the year 2036, and the plot revolves around lifelike androids who start behaving as if they are sentient beings.

“We imagined a world in a near future where androids would look, speak, and move like real human beings,” said Quantic Dream. “We didn’t want to do another story on AI because there are already so many great ones. We wanted to talk about what it means to be human and what it would be like to be in the shoes of an android discovering our world and their own emotions.”

In the game, players are able to craft a unique, interactive story, thoughtfully engage with numerous characters, confront moral dilemmas, and make distinctive branching choices. Every action and decision made by the player changes the story and ultimately the fate of each character.

Each of the story’s pivotal three playable characters has a unique set of abilities, gameplay features, and perspectives. They include:

  • Kara, who escapes the factory she was made in to explore her newfound sentience.
  • Connor, whose job it is to hunt down deviant androids like Kara.
  • Markus, who devotes himself to releasing the androids from servitude.

The game also offers new gameplay systems and UI, giving players the opportunity to interact with the environment in engaging new ways. Players can explore, analyse, collect, and connect information intuitively.

“Detroit: Become Human allows players to discover what it really means to be human in a powerful, emotional journey made of choice and consequences,” said Quantic Dream.

Detroit: Become Human is available from Raru and Loot for R789, and from Takealot for R875.

This article was published in partnership with PlayStation.

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Rise of the machines – How AI will affect your IT job