According to forecasts by McKinsey & Co, by 2030, approximately 14% of individuals will be forced to change jobs due to automation. The scale of economic transformation that we will experience in the next 10 years is comparable to the previous industrial revolutions.
Dmitry Fotiyev, senior adviser for Brainy Solutions, explains why artificial intelligence will not replace creative thinking and what skills need to be developed now in order for professionals to remain in demand as AI becomes increasingly commonplace.
I would like to avoid the apocalyptic forecasts that can often be heard due to the alleged impact of artificial intelligence on the labor market. Akin to previous technological changes, certain jobs will become largely unneeded, but they will be generally replaced by other higher-skill occupations. By 2030, on average, about 15% of an average employee’s working time will be automated. This figure will vary between countries with the general range being from close to zero to about 30%.
Technology is designed to improve productivity, not to reduce employment. In a 2017 McKinsey study, 66% of respondents (CEOs of companies with annual revenues of more than $ 100 million) cited “eliminating potential employee skill gaps” associated with automation as one of their top priorities. AI is not the end for professionals, it is a chance for them to further develop.
This is especially true for creative industries, which include trades such as designers, actors, photographers, writers, and musicians. Any activity that is related to creative thinking, artwork, design can be added to this list.
Can AI be creative?
An algorithm that can be analogous to human creative thinking is a topic that interests many. A neural network is able to analyze millions of elements and produce a new result based on the analysis and data on the rules of composition (such as the golden ratio, tonality, planning), color, and technical specifications.
Yet, there will always be room for a “wrong” result that a person can generate and create for a genius “outside the box” design solution.
Furthermore, there must always be an expert next to each algorithm to evaluate its output through the perspective of human factor and make the necessary adjustments.
If this role is occupied by one specialist, then the data depends on their subjective taste.If there are 100 of them, then the AI-generated result ultimately depends on the subjective taste of hundreds of artists, architects, and art critics.
How is art evaluated? What is beauty? What is good and what is bad in fine art, music, architecture? What are the rules? Everything is always subjective except for compliance with the definition of the task itself.
Let’s take another example – the sensational programs AlphaZero and AlphaGo from Google for chess and Go, respectively. They can calculate all possible combinations of subsequent steps and beat a live person, but they will not transfer the skill of such calculation, for example, to children. Teaching others is based on creativity, so it is not yet suitable for full delegation to AI, so even a program that can beat the world’s top chess grandmasters is no substitute for a great human instructor.
Professionals in science, management, psychology, and the general interactions with other people (e.g. a teacher or a psychologist) are not expected not suffer from the introduction of AI. On the contrary, AI will help specialists from these areas analyze large flows of information and make the right decisions to augment their professional decision-making. As an example, a psychologist could resort to AI-driven analysis of a patient’s symptoms as a tool to contribute to their assessment of a psychological condition, but the final diagnosis would still be ultimately driven by their professional judgement.
Creative professions in the AI world
Many well-known entrepreneurs such as Mark Cuban, believe that robots will replace software developers in 5-10 years, but we do not hear such predictions about creative professions. On the contrary, the leading politicians in Europe today prioritize the development of cultural values and the creative cluster.
Matthew Bishop, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, believes that AI will have a big impact on professions that involve pattern recognition, data analysis, tracking trends and forecasting (e.g. an accountant, paralegal, or a logistics specialist, as examples), but it will not replace positions that require critical assessment and genuine creativity.
Well-known AI entrepreneur and ex-head of Google China Li Kaifu agrees with him. Mr. Kaifu believes that professions based on creativity, learning (e.g. the transfer of skill) and care, such as educators or consultants, are among the safest in the future AI-driven world.
As long as we have experience (even if it’s traumatic), analytical skills, critical thinking, a desire to develop and improve our trade, AI is not a competitor to us.
Moreover, according to experts, soft skills (for example, creativity and emotional intelligence) are now among the most highly valued, the demand for them will continue to increase every year.
Any creative practice is great for developing the brain and has a positive effect on mental health. Such mental “creative workouts” are needed not only by representatives of creative professions, but also by researchers, educators and leaders – anyone who makes extraordinary decisions.
For example, the visualizer’s tools are 3D graphics programs, and the architect’s tools are spatial imagination, observation, and critical thinking. An architect or designer today makes visualizations in these 3D programs, but they would be happy to delegate this task to new technological solutions based on AI and spend more time on designing the innovative buildings, rather than ensuring that their renderings look photo-realistic enough to present to a client. Thus, the job of a visualizer may be displaced by AI, yet the architects would flourish in the creative freedom afforded by an AI program that, say, is able to turn a sketch on a pencil sketch on a napkin into a 3D illustration.
What to learn
Where one door closes, another one opens. Since AI is constantly learning and improving, we need to follow its example and do the same. Unfortunately, many curriculums are designed as if AI do not yet exist at all. The future of labor market automation and robots should be taken into account as these shifts are already happening and will continue to speed up in the next ten years.
The pandemic has forced universities to pay attention to technology and to take remote learning seriously, which gives access to more information and more professionals.
This is by no means a replacement for the traditional form of education, but rather another form to augment the in-person approach. A large array of training can be transferred into an online format, freeing up the in-person interactions with professors and classmates to be more meaningful.
In order for workers of creative specialties to remain in-demand within the new AI world, they need to continue to hone in their creative skills and develop critical thinking – the ability to analyze and question information.
The desire to create and creative activities as a whole will continue to be a real advantage of human intelligence over its artificial analogue.
How to get the most out of AI
At the end of the day, AI is built to increase society’s productivity, not reduce employment. It will not leave representatives of professions that are associated with creative thinking, artistic production and design out of work.
Yet, these professionals need to develop critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and other soft skills in order to ensure that they can occupy high-value roles within their occupations that require the human element.
The creative trades, teaching, caring for others, science and management will certainly not be affected by AI in the nearest future. On the contrary, AI will help specialists from these areas analyze large flows of information, make the right choices, and spend more time conjuring up true innovation.