The Future of AI: Top Skills to Have in a Generative AI World
Generative artificial intelligence (AI), by its name, refers to any algorithm (such as ChatGPT) that generates content. This can take on multiple formats–whether it be visuals, videos, audio, text, simulations, or even code, generative AI has the power to change the workplace foundationally. OpenAI’s wildly popular ChatGPT and Dall-E-2 are used for text and image creation respectively; the recent Google Bard is another example of a chat software that pulls information from the wider Internet.
Generative AI’s capacity to create is simply unprecedented; in current times, when material can be produced in a matter of seconds with prompts, several types of traditional jobs are made redundant and a shift in skills will be needed to build a competent, AI-ready workforce. Graphic designers or writers may lose opportunities when a potential client can simply go to a cheaper, quicker robot; customer service representatives are in a similar boat, with AI being able to serve clients around the clock and with good efficiency. In health, machine learning can generate diagnoses of illnesses and even create customized treatment plans. Ironically, with generative AI’s code-writing abilities, even coders who train in information technology itself may see their positions at risk.
These scenarios are by no means unreal or “too far in the future”. Just this year, a Goldman Sachs report estimated that AI’s automatic working power could eliminate as many as 300 million full-time jobs. Interestingly, however, through replacing jobs characterized by fixed thinking procedures, it is said that AI can potentially also yield a productivity bloom and perhaps even lead to a 7 percent increase in the annual value of goods and services globally.
The age of generative AI may be daunting, but it will be less so with the right knowledge, technique, and directions for training. The dynamics of AI now demand an interesting, renewed set of techniques for anyone who wishes to be a competent worker. Here, let’s look at seven resourceful skill sets to have:
1. AI-prompting Skills
When thinking of applications such as Google Bard, Siri, Alexa, or the widely popular ChatGPT, what is the first step that springs to mind? That’s right–to effectively use these AI systems, it is necessary to give the system instructions. These skills, known as ‘prompting’, help to form required responses in the shortest amount of time possible.
AI-prompting may seem like a simple input of instructions, but it does, in reality, require prolonged practice. Ensuring clarity of instruction itself is not always easy, and given how generative AI draws on information from massive datasets, it is imperative to be able to give scope and context, with just enough instructions. Knowing how to command systems in a way that makes it yield only relevant (no-nonsense) information is critical.
2. Digital Literacy
Generative AI can help humans achieve a limitless number of projects, but digital literacy–one’s ability to navigate the IT world and create insight during the process–is essential for deciding what generative AI can realistically do in the first place. By extension, what applications it can have for specific fields is another important one to consider. What would AI imply for, let’s say, nurses and teachers? How may these implications develop over the years? These are only a few of the many questions that workers with digital literacy can potentially answer.
3. Awareness of Cybersecurity and AI Ethics
In every realm of information technology, concerns about cybersecurity and ethics exist. AI systems can be vulnerable to cyber attacks, and in a similar vein, AI can also generate material for harmful actions. Deepfake AI, for instance, can mislead public perception of what is true and what isn’t, potentially leading to crime that infringes upon intellectual property rights or other personal rights. With generative videos of celebrities saying things that they’ve never said, it isn’t hard to imagine how some types of generative AI may cause public mayhem.
With the cyber landscape being more and more complex and “messy” with generative AI, it would be useful to have a strong awareness of what to look out for in relation to security and ethics.
4. Critical Thinking
Perhaps the most key skill in an AI age, critical thinking is central to human development more broadly and also the answer to solving AI-related problems. Generative AI is not perfect and may sometimes yield incorrect output (for instance, yielding a text with facts that are not accurate). Critical thinking, therefore, allows an individual to know what to verify in an overwhelming pool of AI-generated content; how to verify this content is equally important. Similarly, in a world where robots and humans co-exist, knowing what tasks to delegate to AI, and what type of innovation is needed for a business are still crucial tasks that only humans can decide.
Generative AI creates content by drawing within set algorithms and finite databases. It can create complex technical instructions, but ultimately, only the human mind is capable of thinking outside of the box for novel ideas in creating products or finding solutions. The concept of creativity can be broad and it may take on different forms across industries. If the goal of generative AI is to create, then a skilled, AI-ready human would need to surpass that and produce an even more empowering, robot-proof product.
6. Interpersonal Skills
In an AI world where robots take the stage, interpersonal skills will not cease to be key. While interpersonal skills can bear many forms, a particularly irreplaceable quality that humans have is that of empathy. The sensitivity to what others think and feel is crucial yet often overlooked in business. It is worth remembering that the purpose of AI is ultimately to make human lives more convenient, and that businesses cannot run properly without the building of genuine human connections. Whether it be trust-building with different parties in a business setting, or understanding what clients need, interpersonal skills take time to develop and, for the moment at least, cannot be easily picked up by robots.
With the workplace being reliant on human critical thinking and creativity in an AI-powered world, strong teamwork would be needed to meet the demands of increasingly complex or novel projects. The communication of ideas and conflict resolution would therefore be vital to the progress of any workplace project.
7. Capacity to Learn in an AI Age
AI is bringing technology to develop at unprecedented speed, and it wouldn’t be realistic for a single set of skills to last for an entire career. One’s learning quotient (also known as LQ)--the capacity and willingness to learn–hence becomes rather key. Although it isn’t possible for employees to possess every piece of knowledge on AI in the workplace, simply carrying the potential to learn, adapt, and apply new skills would be imperative.
How can these skills be cultivated?
These seven skills are easier said than done. Even if the technical skills can be trained over time (AI-prompting, cybersecurity awareness, and digital literacy), soft skills are often multi-layered and can take a lot of time to train. Although businesses can now offer future-proof training sessions, the fundamentals of critical thinking, creativity, and learning capacity may be best taught in school up until the workplace. That is, it would be helpful for both schools and businesses to equip the modern generation for a generative AI-heavy world.
Skills to have in a generative AI world: Light at the end of the tunnel
The rapid advent of AI may create fear among many of us, but it is also helpful to remember that no one is alone on the path to becoming AI-ready. Only a couple of decades ago, the global job market was compelled to adapt to the Internet in the workplace–while it did make many workers redundant, much of the world persisted, quickly adapting its workforce and cultivating IT skills on a massive scale. The future of AI will bring a transition like none other, but it will also stimulate humans to finally develop skills that are, well, inherently human– those wouldn’t be easily replaceable by computers. Therefore, from a certain perspective, these skills inspire us to actually uncover the best of our potential. If you’re looking to gear up with training for a LinkedIn profile renewed for the current age, there is no better time than now.
Esme Lee is a science writer and editor in the UK, carrying a passion for tech copywriting. She has a background in educational neuroscience and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge.