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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Dubai: The legendary Sunil Gavaskar on Friday found himself in the midst of a controversy for making an unsavoury comment against Virat Kohli and his wife Anushka Sharma after the Indian captain's forgettable outing in the IPL.

Reacting to what she termed a "distasteful message" by Gavaskar, Sharma sought an explanation from the former India captain.

After dropping two catches, Kohli, undoubtedly one of the best when it comes to chases, failed with the bat, managing just a run off five balls against Kings XI Punjab here on Thursday night.

In the commentary box, Gavaskar came up with a shocking comment involving Kohli's actor wife Anushka.

The remark was in bad taste and did not go down well with the RCB skipper's fans, with some of them urging the BCCI to remove Gavaskar from the commentary panel.

Sharma reacted to it by putting a statement on her Instagram page. She wrote, "That, Mr Gavaskar, your message is distasteful is a fact but I would love for you to explain why you thought of making such a sweeping statement on a wife accusing her for her husband's game?."

"I am sure over the years you have respected the private lives of every cricketer while commentating on the game. Don't you think you should have equal amount of respect for me and us?"

"I am sure you can have many words and sentences in your mind to use to comment on my husband's performance from last night or are your words only relevant if you use my name in the process?"

Over the years, on quite a few instances the Bollywood actress has been blamed whenever her high-profile cricketer husband under-performed on the field, and she rued that fact.

Sharma added, "It's 2020 and things still don't change for me. When will I stop getting dragged into cricket and stop being used to pass sweeping statements?

"Respected Mr. Gavaskar, you are a legend whose name stands tall in this gentleman's game. Just wanted to tell you what I felt when I heard you say this."

The Indian batting mainstay had a forgettable outing at the Dubai International Stadium.

Kohli dropped his KXIP counterpart KL Rahul twice -- once in the 17th over at deep square-leg when he was batting on 83 and then again in the 18th over when he was on 89.

The KXIP skipper then went on to shatter a few record on the way to a 69-ball 132 -- the highest scored by an Indian in an IPL game.