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Tech experts want government to help workers prepare for AI disruption

The tech brains working with artificial intelligence think governments have an important role to play in preparing workers for change

The tech minds currently working with artificial intelligence (AI) realise the importance of government involvement in helping people prepare for the disruption AI advances will cause.

In a survey of 500 IT professionals carried out by Topcoder, which is a global community of 1.2 million IT professionals, 80% said they wanted government involvement in preparing workforces for AI.

Respondents said the government’s role should be helping to prepare the next generation of IT workers for AI, with 55% suggesting the government should fund companies to reskill current staff and 61% saying the government should reshape the public education system in preparation for AI and its impact on jobs and society.

The UK government is starting to put some weight behind AI as an engine of future economic growth for a post-Brexit UK.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are establishing a joint Office for Artificial Intelligence, for which they are now recruiting.

The two departments are together recruiting a deputy director, head of office for AI, on a salary between £65,000 and £80,000.

Read more about the UK government and artificial intelligence

Much research tends to focus on the hopes and fears of the general public when it comes to AI, but the Topcoder survey revealed the thoughts of the developers, designers, and data scientists working with AI and other emerging technologies.

It found that 62% believed AI would be the most disruptive technology affecting businesses through to 2030.

A total of 78% of respondents said they were excited about AI, but most thought the government needed to play a role. “Conventional wisdom suggests that most workers would be anxious about the impact of AI on their jobs, but instead almost seven out of 10 looked forward to implanting the new tech into their work,” said Topcoder.

“We are carbon-based organisms and robots are silicon-based, but I think the boundaries around them are going to get progressively diffused to the extent that you will not be able to distinguish between a human and an android in the next nine years”
Chetan Dube, IPsoft

Artificial intelligence is fast being adopted in the enterprise market, and the technology itself is evolving quickly. Gartner recently said AI might even replace some of the tasks of skilled professionals in medicine, law and IT by 2022.

AI is still in its infancy in terms of enterprise potential, but is already close to being able to create human-like robots walking the streets and interacting with people.

Chetan Dube, founder of AI platform maker IPsoft, and former professor at New York University recently told Computer weekly that the combination of physical robotic machine bodies and AI software brains would eventually make it difficult to tell humans and robots apart.

“We are carbon-based organisms and robots are silicon-based, but I think the boundaries around them are going to get progressively diffused to the extent that you will not be able to distinguish between a human and an android in the next nine years,” he said.

Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics

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