This is how to futureproof your career in an AI world, says IBM's CEO

  • Arvind Krishna doesn't believe AI will replace as many jobs as some fear.

  • But he advises young people to develop critical thinking skills to futureproof themselves.

  • We should be more worried about national security risks and AI-powered misinformation, Krishna said.

Arvind Krishna, the CEO of IBM, has some thoughts for young professionals worried about what AI means for their working lives.

Developing critical thinking skills is the key to future-proofing your career against AI, he said in an interview with London's Sunday Times.

Krishna advises studying subjects that will help people adapt to changing, unpredictable circumstances: "Psychology, engineering, history, they all teach you that."

The 61-year-old, who's spent his entire career at IBM, doesn't think AI will have as much impact as some fear. He predicts that only 6% of the workforce is at risk of having their job replaced by AI.

"Now, over five years, are you saying we can't re-train 6 per cent of the working public?" We need more people in healthcare, elderly care, teaching children, IT and cyber. That demand far exceeds the 6%."

In May, IBM halted hiring for 7,800 jobs that could be replaced by AI. The jobs were primarily non-customer-facing roles in departments such as human resources. Current staff will not be fired, but Krishna told Bloomberg he believed 30% of the department would be replaced by AI and automation in the next five years.

There's still little clarity over how jobs will be affected by the widespread adoption of AI.

Many fear AI will replace them in the workplace. Analysts at Goldman Sachs predicted that if AI lives up to its promised capabilities, it would impact 300 million full-time jobs, causing "widespread disruption" in the global labor market.

But others see it as the great new technological leap forward and a tool for innovation that will generate more jobs. Goldman Sachs found that AI could raise global GDP by 7% over a 10-year period.

While the IBM CEO is not worried about the threat to jobs, Krishna told the Sunday Times that other fears surrounding AI are more well-founded.

National security – "people misusing AI for terrorism, attacks on infrastructure, cyberattacks," – and misinformation being used to interfere with democracy are the two greatest threats in his view.

"I don't get paranoid, but I do think a lot of those fears are well founded," he told the newspaper.

IBM is sending a delegation to the world's first AI Safety Summit being next month at Bletchley Park, near London. It will focus on how to mitigate the risks of AI through international cooperation.

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