AI and the Future of the Professions
Gregg Latchams Business Network (GLBN)
Daniel Susskind, Fellow in Economics at Balliol College, Oxford, co-author with Richard Susskind of The Future of the Professions
Our Professional & Regulatory Services Sector hosted our third GLBN event. We were fortunate enough to have Daniel Susskind, internationally respected thought-leader on the future of the professions, come to Bristol to give an engaging and insightful talk on the role of AI – or artificial intelligence – within professional careers.
Contrary to many expectations, this was not a discussion on how we will all be considered obsolete in the near future: instead, Daniel explored two potential futures that pivot between two evolutions of technology within the workplace. In one, we simply augment and accelerate our traditional professional roles through technology that does the grunt work. In the other, AI replaces some of the traditional roles, or transforms them into something that we would perhaps not even recognize.
Daniel was quick to reassure us that just as technology and AI themselves will adapt, so will we. New understandings of working and entirely new professions will naturally spark out of this development, just as farmers use tractors now instead of the plough. But for many of us, our role as gatekeepers to knowledge is going to drastically change.
Parts of the talk were hard hitting. Professionals can be unaffordable, antiquated, opaque, and lead to underperformance – challenges that we have all undoubtedly met with at various times in our careers, but which we would be astounded (and somewhat embarrassed) to consider our own fault. For us at Gregg Latchams in particular, learning that 60 million disputes are settled on eBay completely digitally, and in 52 million of those cases, without human intervention, was humbling.
So where does that leave us, the professionals? What impact is this going to have on young people who are making decisions about their future training and careers? And will we all be treated by robots in hospitals before too long?
Daniel covered all of these questions, and many more. Whether or not we will be buying driverless cars based on their ethical decision making certainly sparked some laughter, but it was a sobering thought when Daniel discussed how ethics and morality could – and could not – be programmed.
Both before and after the talk, there was the opportunity to network and meet people within various professions who had a natural interest in AI, and plenty of excellent food to be digested, as well as the thought-provoking exploration led by Daniel Susskind. This was another invaluable session for attendees, and the point which was stressed throughout the afternoon was that technology is not something to be feared, but to be embraced.