With artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual reality, and 5G finding their way into the mainstream market, technology can feel as though it’s advancing at the speed of light. Although fast-paced growth in tech can feel overwhelming, one of the best ways to avoid being intimidated by new technology is to stay informed.
How Artificial Intelligence Could Impact Remote Work
If you’ve heard the term artificial intelligence (A.I.) tossed around lately, but aren’t sure what it is or how it could impact your career, you are not alone. Many studies and articles focus on a nihilistic view of technology in our changing economy. However, as with every large advancement in human history, we remain the drivers and the determinants of the next phase in our development.
What Is A.I?
Understanding the basics of artificial intelligence, how it is used now, and its growth potential can help inform skills development necessary to maintain a competitive edge or, at the very least, feel less anxious about its inevitable integration into the job sector.
A.I. is the process of developing computer processes that mimic intelligent thinking. Today, we couldn’t imagine attempting to multiply six digit numbers in our heads when our phones have calculators. In a similar way, A.I. works to solve computing problems using vast amounts of data.
Although A.I. may be a buzzword right now, it is actually one of the oldest sub-fields of computer science. Researchers have been trying to understand human intelligence through machines for decades and while we have made great strides towards this goal in the last 10 years, we have yet to create a machine that has the capacity to truly think like a human.
What we have been able to achieve so far are some impressively advanced systems that recognize patterns and can make predictions. Algorithms tell a computer what and how to complete a task. They are the answer for how Amazon knows what ads to place on your screen while you shop online and why you see content on Facebook and Google based on your Internet preferences and search habits.
Algorithms are one way we’re all being introduced to intelligent machinery and, thus far, without a robot uprising.
This is not to say that there are no ethical issues with the use of algorithms. As with any technology, there are companies and individuals that take advantage of it for less than above-board purposes. However, the more we know about technology as a society, the more we can hold corporations accountable for how they use it.
Another recent milestone in A.I is the ability to teach machines to reason and solve complex problems. This achievement has helped us make some pretty remarkable advancements in the technology we use every day such as voice recognition programs like Siri and Alexa. Although these programs do not represent the full potential of A.I., they are a great starting point for understanding how intelligently designed algorithms are already used in our daily lives.
Remote Work and A.I.
There are already hundreds of thousands of intelligent machines in our workforce. Despite the fear of a reduction in available jobs, machines open the door to new opportunities for workers. The robotic and A.I. fields require more workers to keep up with the recent spike in demand and as the use of machines increases across all industries, some low-skill jobs will be lost, however, they will be replaced with more high-level, skilled positions. More positions will open up that require training, experience, and the willingness to work with machines, not against them.
The available jobs of the future will be higher paying and more thoughtfully designed. As jobs and processes that are dangerous to humans, such as chemical processing and mining, become automated, there is more room for the development of positions that provide a better quality of life for everyone.
According to Harvard Business Review, four industries using the most A.I. technology today:
If you are a remote worker in any of these fields, it is likely you’ve heard rumblings about machine learning and artificial intelligence.
In information technology, machines are used to perform cybersecurity checks, resolve some technical issues for customers, and measure compliance with technology guidelines. All of these tasks could be completed by humans but may require workers to divert from their other responsibilities or to be present at a physical office.
For example, if a company is working on secure servers, a technician may need to visit a particular location to troubleshoot a problem. Whereas a machine can be employed to assess the problem and propose a solution in less time and without incurring travel expenses. Allowing for automation in some areas facilitates more flexibility in the work environment as a whole.
In marketing, A.I. is used to advertise products to the right customers based on previous purchases. A.I. can also monitor social media to assess how well campaigns meet customer expectations. Leaving these tasks to machines gives marketing professionals more room to be creative, design new promotions, interact with clients, and facilitating new partnerships.
Disruption in an industry doesn’t always equal destruction. Change though A.I. could allow for more human-led innovations.
Much of the current use of A.I. in these industries helps existing computer processes run more smoothly and reduce some of the monotonous tasks workers have to complete so they have more time to devote to complex tasks. In our current remote workforce, companies think about artificial intelligence and manpower in relation to improvement, not replacement.
The amount of work to be done often exceeds a company’s capacity to complete it. Integrating A.I. in a way that frees up more time for managers and employees could be one of the most exciting benefits of the technology. Particularly for remote managers, A.I. has the potential to give them back a significant chunk of their day by automating administrative tasks they complete daily, monthly, and quarterly.
Time saved by using A.I. allows remote managers more time to work on the tasks humans do best such as building social relationships, making judgment related decisions and designing teams and processes that improve company culture.
Staying Ahead of the A.I. Curve
A.I. integration will create more jobs than it eliminates. If you are working remotely now, chances are you’ve used technology that utilizes smart computing. What is less discussed concerning the future of A.I. is who will teach computers the skills they need to function. For an algorithm to work properly, humans have to provide the data the machine will use and analyze this data to ensure the computers are working correctly on solving the assigned problem. As technology advances, our need for checks and balances is also given an upgrade.
Telerobotics is another section of machine intelligence that will create more remote jobs. Telerobotics relates to machines that can be controlled remotely by humans to perform a wide range of tasks.
Remote intelligence using telerobotics could facilitate a telecommuting mechanical engineer to fix a leaking underground pipe without leaving their home office. Telerobotics could be integrated with virtual reality to enhance the remote work environment.
Managers could spend a day “in the office” using their telerobot to attend meetings while physically still across the country.
As A.I and remote intelligence integrate, the possibilities for a faster, more efficient workforce emerge. However, instead of this need for speed creating panic as frantic workers spend more and more time at work, machine intelligence could actually reduce the amount of work humans take on and improve the environments in which we work. This exciting technology will change how nearly every job is done. Doctors already consult and perform some surgeries from miles away.
Remote artificial intelligence, like telerobotics, will allow telecommuters to further increase their work-life balance, pursue new opportunities, and advance in their careers if they are willing to adapt.
Your best tool for maintaining your edge in an ever-changing economy and remote job landscape is to embrace change. Cultivate an attitude of curiosity that allows you to be open to trying new technologies like artificial intelligence. There is no age restriction on innovation. At every stage in your career you can learn skills that could propel you to greater success.
We should focus on how A.I. can add to our growth and well-being on both a professional and personal levels. What could you accomplish in your workday if you didn’t have to complete data entry or compile simple reports? What could your virtual team accomplish if you could brainstorm using a virtual model, meet in virtual space, or review a new product from the comfort of your home?
A.I and computer intelligence give us possibilities. When we use automation to improve our work lives it will be easier to shift our attention from managing processes to building relationships.
No matter how far computer intelligence advances, it is unlikely computers will replace human interaction. This key factor connects every great advancement in human history. Without collaboration, technology cannot continue to advance. It is possible to use this to our advantage as remote workers by driving innovation in ways that enhance our ability create meaningful adaptations. When pursued thoughtfully, any advancement in technology can help us live healthier, safer, and more fulfilling lives.
Have you been curious about the relationship between artificial intelligence and remote work? Chat with us when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you!
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