Sameer Maskey is smiling into the camera in a brightly lit space.
Sameer Maskey. Image: Pear The Agency

‘AI will shake up work and displace some jobs – but it will make us better workers’

3 Feb 2020602 Views

Sameer Maskey, a Columbia University adjunct associate professor and CEO of Fusemachines, discusses how AI will change our jobs in the future.

Are robots going to take our jobs? What are people going to work as in the future, as AI and machines continue to become a greater part of our workplaces? These are some of the questions Sameer Maskey, a Columbia University adjunct associate professor with 18 years of experience in AI and machine learning, wants to explore.

Many of us are already seeing the impacts of modern technology on our work, from automation tools to voice-activated assistants. So, it’s in our best interests to prepare for the advances that are still to come.

Here, Maskey, also a former IBM Watson engineer and current CEO of Fusemachines, discusses the future of automation, the importance of upskilling and more.

‘There’s a huge opportunity to develop new skills that can keep up with a world that’s constantly advancing technologically’
– SAMEER MASKEY

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How far away are we from seeing AI become a normal part of working life?

AI is already a part of our working life in many ways – from auto-composition of emails in Gmail to Google search, AI is embedded in our daily lives. Machines have begun transforming businesses and will continue to do so, reducing repetitive or manual tasks and accelerating economic growth.

Whether used to perform administrative tasks, increase speed and efficiency with machine learning or improve understanding of customer behaviour through chatbots, AI is reshaping the present and future of work.

Should employees be worried about AI?

Employees should be cognisant of the effect AI will have in the workplace and realise the fact that it will certainly replace some jobs that are susceptible to automation. In order to prepare for this, employers should do a stock check of their company’s current skillsets to help discern what types of training would move them ahead in the workplace through reskilling and retaining their current workforce.

What do you see as the biggest role AI will play in the jobs of the future?

In addition to machine-learning engineers and data scientists, AI will require the creation of more positions requiring a wide variety of backgrounds, such as AI trainers, explainers, AI interaction designers and business intelligence developers.

To address concerns regarding bias and diversity in AI, there will also be a demand for people with a diverse background and skills to eliminate bias in AI models.

How exactly will these new roles be different to the ones we have today?

These new roles will enhance our current jobs by increasing speed, quality and efficiency. AI augments human intelligence to push industries forward. The new roles will utilise both the domain knowledge of experts such as linguists, anthropologists and social scientists along with the technical expertise involved in building algorithms as well as business understanding.

Will work-life balance be harder to achieve or more possible with the growth of AI?

It’s safe to assume AI can help us achieve a healthy work-life balance, given its influence in automation but, ultimately, it’s up to the user whether they leverage it to strike a balance or not.

As mentioned earlier, AI will enhance productivity, save time, reduce repetitive tasks, increase customer personalisation and reduce administrative tasks.

Do you have any advice for workers today on how they can be prepared for the changing job market, and how to best embrace it?

The best way to prepare yourself for a changing job market is through education and getting new skills that will help play a role in your job and future career path. There’s a huge opportunity to develop new skills that can keep up with a world that’s constantly advancing technologically.

Many people need to alter their attitudes when it comes to the future of tech in the workplace. AI will definitely shake up how we do things at work and displace some jobs but, ultimately, it’s going to make us better as workers. The changing job market should be embraced. I encourage business leaders and employees to be excited about what’s to come and have the desire to best prepare themselves for where the future of work is headed.

Updated, 2.50pm, 3 February 2020: This article was amended to correct Sameer Maskey’s position as an adjunct associate professor, instead of an assistant professor.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa joined the team as senior Careers reporter in July 2019 with previous experience in science communication and media. With a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication, she is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos.

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