Last week, OpenAI hinted that they had a new technology called Q* that could upend our understanding of what AI systems can do. While existing systems are glorified predictive text machines, this new iteration could be able to reason things through from first principles and become math prodigies.
If this sounds far-fetched, it would back up OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman that “AGI has been achieved internally.” A machine that can think and reason like a human (as well as do everything else we do) now exists on a testbed somewhere.
This news is somewhat unwelcome for workers wanting to enter the economy and career-oriented professions. While AI is fantastic, a machine that can do everything a human can sounds unnerving. We could be looking at the end of white-collar work as we know it (and many commentators have said as much).
The good news is that AI is probably still some time away from being implemented across the economy. While the technology is undoubtedly impressive, it could take twenty years to roll out. If that’s the case, it is still worth making long-term career decisions.
But how are workers supposed to adapt to this new situation as it unfolds? Let’s take a look.
Develop New Data Skills
The top priority should be learning new data skills. During the buildout of this technology, firms will be looking for human workers to provide services only they can.
You can become a data scientist in a matter of months with the right approach. And the job is in high demand. Companies are desperate for people with advanced mathematical skills and statistical reasoning.
You could also just develop your math skills and pursue more in-demand technical skills. Companies are always looking to promote people internally and get them working in more lucrative areas.
Monitor The Latest AI Trends
You should also prioritize monitoring the latest AI trends. Understanding what’s going on in the field can help you predict which path you should take next in your career.
For instance, monitor new AI capabilities. Find out what they can do now so you know whether it is worth investing in training in a specific area.
You can also take courses on AI to understand the technology on a deeper level, helping you to predict how it will evolve. Seeing how it will change will tell you whether your career should have a new focus.
AI breakthroughs will likely be unpredictable going forward, but you should understand how things are changing a few months from implementation. For instance, right now we know that OpenAI has a system that can do mathematical reasoning. Therefore, you might want to explore a different avenue and leave the proofs to the machines.
Become A Creative Problem-Solver
Another approach is to become a creative problem-solver. Machines are full of ideas, but they tend to pick and choose the best of human ideas instead of going beyond them. That means they can’t always offer novel solutions in new situations (although they are pretty good at solving problems via conventional means).
Therefore, ask whether you could become a creative problem-solver who can come up with original ideas. Demonstrate these skills and show how you can think more laterally than the machines.
Be Willing To Learn
While it might sound obvious, being willing to learn is another crucial trait in a world of ever-changing careers. You should be receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things if they are better than the old methods.
AI is going to make many of these efficiency improvements possible. For example, just this week, the world got its first glimpse of AI-powered systems that can take control of computers and carry out commands with simple prompts.
For example, you can tell these systems to search the web for the most interesting articles on AI and then summarize them in an email to send to the people on your mailing list.
Make Connections With People In Your Field
Given the unpredictability of AI capabilities, it is also worth making connections with people in your field. If there’s a sudden round of lay-offs, you can reach out to people in this network and look for new opportunities together.
This process was already common in the pre-godlike-AI world. People with careers would leave their jobs because of redundancy, only for companies to invite them back again in a different position.
You should network vertically and horizontally. Look for ways to build a superior relationship with your seniors as well as people in other firms that might be interested in hiring you in the future if an opportunity to do so becomes available. Take time to understand what the people in your network need and find ways to deliver value to them to prove competence.
Explore Your Strengths
You might also want to explore your strengths and see where they lead you as AI becomes more powerful. While machines might be able to perform some tasks, you’ll be able to do others.
Look and see where you can do things that machines can’t. Take another look at what you are good at and see where you could carve a niche for yourself.
Look At Alternative Sources Of Income That Don’t Involve Work
Finally, you might want to look at alternative sources of income that don’t involve work. If the impact of artificial intelligence is anything as great as many researchers predict, the fundamental basis of the economy may change.
In a situation like this, it is worth keeping one eye on alternative sources of income you can leverage. For example, instead of working for a tech firm, you could invest in one you think will be successful and earn income via the capital markets.
You can also look at creating a personal brand for yourself. Machines can never be the real you.
So, there you have it: some of the ways you can adjust your career now that AI is here. It’s going to be an interesting decade for anyone with a job.