人工智能是工作杀手吗?在加利福尼亚,情况很复杂

 3周前     36  
人工智能是工作杀手吗?在加利福尼亚,情况很复杂

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对于最近在加利福尼亚州和全国各地被解雇的数千名科技工作者来说,未来可能并不像现在看起来那么黯淡:许多人可能会很快接受再培训,在新兴的人工智能领域找到新的工作

科技巨头和许多小公司的大规模裁员在很大程度上是投资者要求更严格的结果——经理们认为这是疫情期间的过度招聘,以及股市对裁员的奖励

但该行业也在为专注于人工智能扫清道路,预计人工智能将在未来几年彻底改变计算机相关技术和工作——即使它取代了以前由人类处理的工作,在编码和背景表演等领域也各不相同

人工智能不仅取代了曾经完全由人类完成的更标准的计算机编程,还开始刺激一波又一波的新应用——随之而来的是包括南加州在内的广泛行业的技术和非技术工作

“我们看到的是,许多科技公司实际上正在将人工智能解决方案货币化,”总部位于洛杉矶的See&Free Consulting创始人Jenn Longnion说,该公司帮助企业可持续发展。“他们拥有人工智能已经很长一段时间了。但他们现在正在寻找将其货币化的方法,并将其作为解决方案推广给其他企业……每个行业现在都在进行这些对话。”

根据就业网站Really的数据,美国专门提到人工智能的招聘信息虽然仍然只是所有职位的一小部分,但在2月份比一年前增长了13%,尽管软件开发下降了30%以上

硅谷,今天人工智能的大部分活动都在这里,有望引领潮流。根据人口普查局的数据,2月份,湾区9%的公司表示他们已经使用了人工智能,而整个美国的这一比例略高于5%

洛杉矶地区公司的份额并不显著高于全国平均水平,但南部地区约8%的公司表示,他们预计在未来六个月内采用人工智能。硅谷海滩已经成为专注于人工智能和增强现实的公司的家园,公司正在招聘数百个与人工智能相关的工作,包括培训该技术的内容作者和软件开发人员

“我们正处于一个几乎淘金热的时期,每个人都在构建一个人工智能公司模型,”他说。“生产中很少部署人工智能……目前,这感觉像是创造就业机会的黎明。”

在通过人工智能将她的初创公司从商业运营软件转向客户服务票务后,Sophie Wyne看到了兴趣的飙升

在数百家寻找人才的人工智能初创公司中,有由Debparna Pratiher共同创立的湾区公司Quest Labs。这位27岁的年轻人曾在英伟达担任产品经理,英伟达是硅谷知名的游戏和其他高性能计算(尤其是人工智能)芯片供应商。

Pratiher是加州大学戴维斯分校和卡内基梅隆大学的校友。她的公司有大约20名员工,由Techstars和Afore Capital提供种子资金。随着谷歌开始逐步淘汰第三方cookie,该公司一直在迅速为电子商务构建数据集,该cookie可以跟踪和了解用户的在线行为。Pratiher说:“如果饼干不见了,你就对消费者视而不见。”

她说,她很难找到在机器语言学习方面有丰富经验的合格数据科学家和其他人工智能工程师

对于那些最近被解雇的人来说,加快机器语言学习和其他急需的人工智能技能并不像人们想象的那样令人生畏。一些技能,例如学习编程语言和数据库来构建人工智能模型,对IT工作者来说可能需要几周的时间

即使是那些在技术方面经验很少或根本没有的人也能够转向

Shakil Kamran在2017年参加了Salesforce的一次会议,开始尝试进军科技领域,并从他的零售管理职业生涯中过渡出来。零售管理职业通常每周工作60小时,几乎没有时间陪伴儿子

他通过总部位于旧金山的Salesforce在线学习平台Trailhead学习课程,提高了自己的技能,并开始将人工智能视为未来。如今,37岁的Kamran是一名Salesforce顾问,专注于帮助组织使用人工智能帮助其业务发展

居住在康涅狄格州的Kamran说:“人工智能将帮助我们。它将帮助我们成长,变得更有效率。”。“这将使我们的生活更加精彩。”

其他人也在效仿Kamran。Trailhead去年扩大了其人工智能课程,包括43个通过完成课程获得的“徽章”。Trailhead高级副总裁Ann Weeby表示,到目前为止,用户已经获得了超过110万枚徽章

“我们看到来自各个级别、各种类型的员工……加入并开始学习,因为他们想申请

"AI is going to help us. It's going to assist us in growing and becoming more effective and efficient," said Kamran, who lives in Connecticut. "It's going to supercharge our lives."

Others are following Kamran's lead. Trailhead expanded its AI curriculum last year to include 43 "badges" that are earned by completing courses. So far, users have tallied more than 1.1 million badges , said Ann Weeby, senior vice president of Trailhead.

"We're seeing employees from every level, in every type of business ... jump in and start learning, because they want to apply generative AI to their business yesterday," Weeby said.

For their part, many universities are pivoting to incorporate AI in courses on computer science and other disciplines.

"It's not a death knell," said Charles Lee Isbell Jr., who studied at MIT's AI Lab and recently became provost at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Isbell is pushing for classroom emphasis on AI data-driven simulations and so-called deep learning, which uses multiple layers of what are called "artificial neural networks"—complex algorithms designed to mimic the human brain to generate new data.

"Coding and programming aren't going away," he said.

Tech layoffs have slowed from last year's frenetic pace, but they remain substantial. More than 28,000 job cuts by tech firms nationwide were announced in the first two months of this year, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement and research firm.

Only a few hundred of those layoffs were explicitly attributed to AI, but thousands more cuts in tech and other industries were said to be the result of "updating or incorporating new technology," Challenger said. It noted that some of that may be companies overhauling budgets and staffing to make room for AI work.

Although AI may not be directly responsible for most of the tech sector's job cuts, companies are realizing that greater utilization could mean they don't have to rehire for some positions, or that they can transition parts of those jobs over to the new technology, said Longnion of See & Free Consulting.

Background actors expressed fears during last summer's strike that AI technology would be used to replace their jobs. Their new contract secured rules to guard against that.

Data from Layoffs.fyi show that a growing number of layoffs have hit software developers, also known as coders, who—after decades of disrupting other industries and other workers' jobs with their programs—find themselves victims.

In recent months, hundreds of coders and other IT specialists have been let go by tech giants Google, Meta and Apple, as well as many smaller industry-focused digital platforms and cloud services, including Toast (restaurants), Flexport (logistics) and Block (financial services).

Many of the layoffs have come in the Bay Area, putting a pause to two decades of growth at California's computer-systems design firms and related services. Most of the cuts probably reflect a pullback after excessive pandemic-driven hiring, due in part to ecommerce and remote work.

But the correction may be ending soon, as new tech jobs come into view and workers adjust.

Ayanna Howard, a robotics expert and dean of the engineering college at Ohio State University, said it wasn't long ago that coding was all the rage, and people were flocking to computer boot camps. She remembers how hard it once was for people to create a website. Now, with AI tools, you can build one within minutes by simply putting in blocks of information, she noted.

AI can also do coding on back-end servers, the side responsible for storing and organizing data, including security.

But Howard said not all is lost for even low-level coders.

"If you're trained to learn, you can evolve," she said, just as those who began by using Pascal and BASIC learned to program in Assembly and Python, used for many machine learning and AI solutions.

Others are emphasizing the inimitable human touch that AI could never replace. Since Alissa Marr was laid off last month from an early-stage AI startup, the product designer has mostly focused on building her business acumen and strategic problem-solving ability rather than just retooling her software skills.

"Those kinds of things are not something an AI can do," said Marr, 39, who lives in Providence, R.I. "You need to have a human with expertise and knowledge about the customer and the business problem. There needs to be someone pulling the strings, because it can't just be automated by AI and just go out as is."

AI may ultimately lead to a smaller tech workforce, said Howard of Ohio State. But there will also be AI-augmented jobs, as well as new jobs. One position in high demand is prompt engineer, who designs prompts and other processes to get optimal performance from generative AI tools, whether text or images.

A company buying AI conversational programs such as ChatGPT (from OpenAI) or Gemini (from Google) will still need engineers to refine and customize the tools to replicate human-like dialogue suitable for its customers.

"We don't necessarily know what it is that we need," Howard said. "But they will come out, and when they do, it'll be like, 'Oh, guess what? It's another field.'"

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