By Dr Abhinanda Sarkar, Director Academics, Great Learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for a while now. In the last decade, Deep Learning revolutionized computer vision and natural language processing among other things. But in the last year or so, Generative AI has taken the world by storm. AI is advancing beyond classification and prediction, actively creating and impacting various industries with immediate applications. The IT industry itself has been central to it all, raising concerns about job displacement. Let us take a brief look at five kinds of IT professionals and the likely impact of AI on their roles.
The Changing Landscape for Data Scientists
Generative AI and Deep Learning rely on extensive amounts of data. This data can be in structured, numeric, form. It can also be unstructured, as in text, speech, images, video, etc. This is therefore a time of change for Data Scientists. Those who adapt well to working with unstructured data are poised to thrive. AI is no threat to them; it is a major opportunity.
Business Analysts: Storytelling in the Age of AI
An increasingly important part of the technologist’s job in this particular age of AI is story-telling. In a business context, this is the primary role of Business Analysts. Generative AI has created new ways to tell stories, with automatically generated graphics and summarizations. The Business Analyst’s role is therefore not to merely create such output, but to interpret it in valuable and intuitive ways.
Full-Stack Developers: Enhancing Efficiency Through AI
Full-Stack Developers build products. They work on the back end, where data is collected, stored, and retrieved. They create the front end, often in the form of web pages or mobile apps. A lot of this is coding. Generating starter code through, for example, GitHub Copilot simplifies and speeds up coding. AI will not replace programmers, it will make them faster, more efficient, and overall better.
System Engineers: Leveraging AI for Reliability
AI relies on computer systems that are reliable and scalable. The job of ensuring this is the domain of System Engineers. As this is a broad role, it is usually staffed by experienced technologists. AI can directly support some tasks like fault identification and test case generation. The System Engineer can, in turn, focus on organization-specific aspects of system architecture and program management.
Cybersecurity Experts: An AI-proof Role
Some tech roles are relatively immune to the direct impact of AI. One such role is that of Cybersecurity Experts. Computer security is a never-ending and constantly evolving need. Like technologies before it, AI is adding to the mix and the complexity. Computation is done largely on the cloud and access to AI is often through edge devices. Therefore, cybersecurity experts have more to do and skills to acquire.
One specific aspect of the question of “Will AI replace a tech professional” lies in what defines an IT professional in the age of Generative AI. Much of routine coding will be automated and the expertise required will be more in algorithm design. Number-crunching will be replaced by information extraction in a broad-sense view of unstructured information. At least in the immediate future, businesses will want efficiency gains from AI, and problem-solving and risk-taking from trained professionals.
Tech professionals will not be replaced by AI; they will be upgraded.