Are You Ready to Race Against Technology?

Will machines come for your current job someday? The answer is “yes” – and soon. There is only one way to stay ahead – keep learning more, better and faster. The great race against technology is on.

Artwork by Singapore Computer Society

I started my career in digital marketing as a junior campaign manager. My job mainly involved analysing online advertisement placement reports, and then adjusting the system to deliver the best outcome. Even though work was tough and sometimes monotonous, I loved every minute and lived my dream of an Internet guru.

Yet in just a few years my first job has all but disappeared. Or rather, in technical terms, it has been automated. Today, the new generation of marketing platforms use clever algorithms to doa day’s worth of my work in a millisecond and, I have to admit, with a much higher quality. 

Concerns over automation are timely. In the past, many were sceptical of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which didn’t seem to deliver on its many promises. Yet, we often overestimate what technology can do over a short period of time and underestimate its impact in the long run. The new generation of AI, modelled after how human brain learns, is now becoming more capable of performing creative tasks that previously only highly trained professionals could do – writers, designers and even programmers. I can certainly feel how competition with machines is heating up in the marketing and advertising field. AI has completely taken over my fairly recent job. And I should be totally terrified, if… I actually had time to worry. 

Despite automation, I seem to have more work now than ever before. Hours got longer, plans more ambitious, conversations more passionate. It could be that, so far, I just managed to outrun the AI. Since my first job, I have used every opportunity to build my knowledge of commerce, technology and people, and thus developed a broader and  deeper understanding of my craft. Correspondingly, I also took on projects which are more complex, creative and rewarding. I am even grateful that automation took over my routine tasks and gave me time to focus on more meaningful work.

Many people are struggling to find out how they can stay relevant as AI gets better. I believe the answer could simply be to rediscover our humanity and become even more “human” – to feel, to empathise, to imagine, to excite and to connect. These things come naturally to us, but at the same time, they are most difficult to reproduce with technology. And our instinct to collaborate may very well be the key that will ultimately lead us to victory – working with instead of competing against AI. Together, with technology on our side, we can run faster than ever before. 

First appeared in The IT Society magazine and Infopier:

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