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Is AI the new normal?
Source: Sue White




Richard Kimber believes artificial intelligence solutions will allow us to be more creative during the time we spend at work.
Photo: Gregg Porteous

It doesn’t sound like a good news story: your job as you know it may soon be taken over by a robot. Even if the role still exists in 10 years time, it’s likely that automation will change it significantly. Is it not a cause for concern?

While many of us may occasionally ponder the take up of artificial intelligence in Australian workplaces, chances are we don’t contemplate it as often as the founder of Australian AI software company Daisee, Richard Kimber.

Kimber, who formally held a regional managing director role at Google, has spent years watching the progress of AI. But unlike most observers of the trend he also decided to start a business helping companies implement it.

‘‘There’s two perspectives. On the dark side people say AI will take away roles. On the positive side there are enormous numbers of new jobs being created,’’ Kimber says.

The obvious career winners in the move towards AI are data scientists and, to a lesser extent, software engineers. But Kimber says new roles are already emerging to help companies determine how their business can benefit from AI implementation.

It doesn’t sound like a good news story: your job as you know it may soon be taken over by a robot. Even if the role still exists in 10 years time, it’s likely that automation will change it significantly. Is it not a cause for concern?

While many of us may occasionally ponder the take up of artificial intelligence in Australian workplaces, chances are we don’t contemplate it as often as the founder of Australian AI software company Daisee, Richard Kimber.

Kimber, who formally held a regional managing director role at Google, has spent years watching the progress of AI. But unlike most observers of the trend he also decided to start a business helping companies implement it.

‘‘There’s two perspectives. On the dark side people say AI will take away roles. On the positive side there are enormous numbers of new jobs being created,’’ Kimber says.

The obvious career winners in the move towards AI are data scientists and, to a lesser extent, software engineers. But Kimber says new roles are already emerging to help companies determine how their business can benefit from AI implementation.

"[AI can] liberate people to be much more creative in the time they do spend at work,"says Kimber.

While much of AI’s public face to date focuses on consumer-focused applications like talking speakers or Google maps, Kimber says the business applications for AI haven’t really started being tapped.

As just two of myriad possibilities, he mentions the potential for financial companies to automate credit scoring with AI, and notes that most organisations with high volumes of customer interaction happening through call centres are missing opportunities to capture that ‘‘voice’’ activity through automations for sentiment analysis.

Of course, one of the big problems with weaving AI more actively into our workplaces is that mostly, managers don’t understand it. In a survey by Deloitte of 1500 executives, only 17 per cent said they were familiar with AI.

It’s a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by educators. At RMIT, short online courses in digital transformation exist in part to try to bridge the gap for those in management roles, by unpacking the confusion around topics like AI or blockchain, which is like a digital ledger.

RMIT Online CEO Helen Souness says that technology itself has the potential to transform every government department.

"Most people I know don’t get what it is about," she says.

So once we do get corporate Australia onboard, who will be pulling the levers? It’s a fair bet that employees keen to specialise in areas like data science will soon be in hot demand.

According to Kimber, data scientists are already being snapped up by a number of Australian banks. Whatever way AI unfolds in the workplace, it seems change is coming, fast.

"It’s not an incremental shift in productivity, it’s a paradigm shift and generational change in the power of computing," he says. "People are talking about it being the start of the fourth industrial revolution."

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