Depending on whom you're listening to, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is either a threat that will turn on its creators or is the saviour of humankind in the years to come. As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of these two options - AI is a technology that will act within its capacity to perform the functions that it is given. Even within the group of people who don't believe that AI will turn violent, many consider AI, with its potential to do repetitive or time-intensive work swiftly and accurately, as a threat to the global job market. If robots do the jobs of humans, what will humans do, they ask. The answer to that is simple - they will do the other jobs that robots can't.

In the last decade or so, swift advances in Machine Learning and Deep Learning technologies have led to AI making a quantum leap in its capacity to perform functions. AI can now decode natural language, translate in real-time, and even engage in limited conversation with human beings. It won't be long before it is capable of passing the Turing test absolutely. The increasing capacity of AI to learn and make decisions added to its existing abilities to work without rest and error-free would make it an ideal choice for doing the kind of manual labour that many are still are engaged in doing today.

What AI has shown little or no capacity to engage in thus far is creativity and innovation. It is unlikely to develop a sense of humour and probably would require centuries of development before it can approach the concept of thinking laterally and outside the box. AI will be much better suited to replace human beings in mass manufacturing, bringing greater synergy and efficiency into that domain than before. Doing so would lower the costs of manufactured goods, increase consumption, and raise the profits of such companies. This would increase these companies' productivity, and make them need more humans in marketing. Which is why certain research firms have indicated that AI will create more jobs than it eliminates, stating that by 2020, AI will generate 2.3 million jobs worldwide.

New avenues

A survey of 1,000 global organisations which deployed AI-based systems found that 80% of the surveyed firms had added more jobs, while two-thirds of the respondents indicated that there had been no reduction in jobs attributable to AI. For the most part, AI is being used to enhance and enable human employees to remove redundant mechanical and record-keeping aspects of their work, freeing them up and enabling them to be more productive.

The spike in demand for AI-proficient programmers is all the more remarkable because there is a dearth of qualified candidates capable of taking up these positions. According to a leading job portal, there is currently a ratio of 2.3 available roles for every suitable candidate. Applications of AI would also create a massive pool of opportunities.

 Even in other industries, AI will create greater productivity that would enhance employment, not curtail it. There will be a greater need for humans who specialise in abstract thinking, creative tasks, and problem-solving, which will lead to job growth in these areas.

While these new jobs will be more lucrative than the ones that AI will take up, they will require substantial reskilling of the existing workforce. Hence, in the field of AI, it is important to focus more on improving the skills of the workforce, than be worried about the growing technology.

We should actively ask how we can make ourselves more productive and less mechanical in our work, and find ways to add problem-solving and analytical skills. Picking up AI programming would be a great choice, as this is easier to learn than one would imagine. So, what are you waiting for?

(The author is managing director - India, Udacity)

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Melbourne: Shafali Verma's 34-ball 46 followed by a superlative performance from the bowlers helped India notch up a narrow four-run win over New Zealand in a crucial group A match of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup here on Thursday.

Invited to bat, India posted a below-par 133 for eight against New Zealand in the crucial group A match with Shafali top-scoring with a 34-ball 46 and Taniya Bhatia chipping in with a 25-ball 23.

India, however, produced a disciplined performance with the ball to restrict New Zealand to 129 for six and register their third successive win in the tournament.

With this win, India topped Group A, having beaten Australia and Bangladesh in their last two outing.

Defending the total, India introduced spin straight away but Deepti Sharma bled 12 runs with opener Rachel Priest (12) hitting her for two boundaries.

But experienced pacer Shikha Pandey removed Priest in the next over when she had her caught at mid wicket. With Shikha and left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad bowling in tandem, New Zealand played with caution to reach 28 for one.

Back into the attack, Deepti then cleaned up Bates with a beauty of a delivery as New Zealand slipped to 30 for two.

Poonam Yadav and Radha Yadav then mounted the pressure on the Kiwis and soon the Black Caps were 34 for 3 when the former dismissed skipper Sophie Devine (14).

Maddy Green (24) and Katey Martin (25) then tried to resurrect the innings with a 36-ball 43-run stand. However, Gayakwad returned to remove Green, who danced down the pitch only to end up with an outside edge as Bhatia did the rest.

Radha then dismissed Martin to leave New Zealand at 90 for 5 in 16.3 overs.

Needing 44 off 21 balls, Kerr (34) blasted four boundaries to accumulate 18 runs in the penultimate over bowled by Poonam to bring the equation down to 16 off six balls.

In the final over, Heyley Jensen (11) and Kerr cracked a four each but Shikha held her nerves in the end to complete the win.

Earlier, 16-year-old Shafali provided the fireworks as India scored 49 for one in the powerplay overs. But they lost six wickets for 43 runs to squander the good start.

Smriti Mandhana (11), who returned to the playing XI after missing the last match due to illness, departed early but Shafali and Taniya (23) kept the scoreboard ticking, adding 51 runs for the second wicket.

In the 10th over, Taniya was caught by Amelia Kerr at backward point, while Jemimah Rodrigues (10) was caught by Kerr in the 12th over as India slipped to 80 for 3.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur's (1) poor form also continued as she was soon back to the hut after being caught and bowled by Leigh Kasperek.

Shafali, who was dropped at long-on in the 8th over and at mid-wicket in the 10th over, then holed out to Jensen at deep extra cover. She had four hits to the fence and three maximum shots in her innings.

Left-handed batter Deepti Sharma (8) and Veda Krishnamurthy (6) brought up the 100 in the 15th over but both departed soon as India slumped to 104 for 6.

Radha Yadav then blasted 14 off nine balls, which included a six in the final over, to give some respectability to the total.

Brief Score:

India women: 133 for 8 in 20 overs (Shafali Verma 46; Amelia Kerr 2/21).

New Zealand women: 129 for six in 20 overs (Amelia Kerr 34 not out; Shikha Pandey 1/21).