These 4 jobs will keep you safe from robots

Technology is becoming more powerful by the minute. Given the current trajectory of artificial intelligence, machines will soon do everything that people do today. This prospect is both exciting and completely terrifying.

From a macro-level, technological changes will ultimately make the world a better, richer place. But at the micro, personal level, machines will render many skills less relevant and less valuable. How can we "beat the bot" before it is too late? Here are four areas and skills that are AI proof, at least for a while.

Data science

According to the job website CareerCast, data science is the toughest job to fill in 2017. Technology companies aren't the only ones that rely on data, rather than guesswork, to run their operations. Many businesses, including banks, airlines and manufacturers, are scrambling to hire data talent.

You don't have to be a math savant to be a data scientist; the biggest trend this year is growth of the "citizen" data scientist. Anyone can get started by working with software from companies such as Tableau or Qlik.

Cybersecurity

Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud storage vendor Box, recently said, "If you want a job for the next few years work in technology. If you want a job for life, work in cybersecurity."

The battle between "black hats" and "white hats" gets more intense each year as modern day Willie Suttons go where the money is – i.e., hacking code. Keeping state-sponsored operatives at bay is a task without end. You might not be able to talk about your work, but your bank balance will know.

Design

Apple's design sensibility – beautiful objects, sleek online and retail experiences – has changed the face of modern business. Now every company and organization knows it needs to upgrade its customer-facing game to stay in tune with changing demographics and changing times.

Design, once an afterthought after engineers and accountants completed the real work, is front and center in every critical decision businesses make. Consequently, design firms are being acquired right, left and center by big consulting and technology firms.

If you don't have a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) background, but are more "artsy," this could be a job for you. The design of products and services and user interfaces is one of the surest ways for a non-technologist to thrive in an increasingly techno-centric world.

Strategy

In recent research conducted by our Center for the Future of Work, almost every one of the 2,500 leading executives we interviewed agreed humans need to be more "strategic" in the face of growing automation. What does that mean? Rote tasks, which still represent a substantial proportion of most people's day-to-day work, are morphing into the machine, freeing up time and energy to ask better questions, craft better directions and generate more effective innovation.

This is happening at every level of the organization, from the executive suites down to the department where you may work. The need to elevate the role of hominus relative to machina is the great challenge and opportunity in front of us all. CEOs and boards will increasingly need strategists to help them understand what their companies should do when machines have more control.

And there will be plenty of work for you, if you can think strategically about the work you do and how to do it as software and robots become more intelligent.

The widespread meme in today's zeitgeist is that AI and robots will leave us all jobless. In our survey, we found that only a third of respondents actually believe the rise of artificial intelligence will lead to large-scale reductions in the number of people needed to do work.

The vast majority believe, as we do, that our unquenchable human ingenuity will continue to find work for human hands and brains to satisfy our existing and emerging wants and needs. When machines do everything, there will still be plenty for humans to do. You should get on with it.

Ben Pring is a co-author of What to Do When Machines Do Everything (Wiley 2017) and leads Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work.

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