Will artificial intelligence take your job?

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By Glenn Townes

When people ask Information Technology (IT) expert Kerrie Holley if a computer will  replace them at work, the California-based technology savant is likely to respond,
“Yes! If you don't bother to do anything about it now!” Holley said by staying in sync with or perhaps even a step or two ahead of on-going changes in IT,  skilled and tech savvy workers will likely remain marketable and gainfully employed for years to come.

Holley is a technology fellow with a focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Optum—a subsidiary of United Health Group based in Sunnyvale, Ca. Holley was named as one of the Most Important Blacks in Technology by US Black Engineer Magazine in 2009 and 2007. He is also a former IBM software engineer and was Big Blue's first African American engineer and member of the Academy of Technology in the mid 2000's—the company's highest technical honor.  Holley has been giving presentations about various aspects of IT across the country—including in New York and New Jersey, for more than 25 years—with a niche focus on healthcare in recent years.

Artificial Intelligence, in its broadest definition is the intelligence exhibited by machines or software. In academia, it's the study of how to create computer software that is capable of intelligent behavior. “When AI technologies are applied to enhance real-time analytics, the innovation explodes—whether this means better disease prediction models, superior clinical care decision tools, or better clinical pathways,”  he said. “Seeing first-hand the impact of social determinants of health was not an AI problem for me but an experience,” he said. “As an adult, it was visible with the premature deaths of my sister and brother—the opportunity to build technology that directly contributes to people's health is compelling.”

In New Jersey, Flemington based small business consultant, presenter and IT guru,
George Pace echos similar sentiments about the explosion of technology—with AI being just one of many technologies that will continue to be a source of disruption—albeit positive and negative in the contemporary workplace. “We have already started to see the AI based system have an impact on business processes in the workplace.” Pace highlights some of the most common examples of Artificial Intelligence:

*Image Recognition—AI helps to understand objects, places and people in pictures.  Pace says this is a rapidly growing field that can impact dozens of industries from medicine to journalism. Pace said,  “At least one journalism school offers a course on how to effectively use a drone for news reporting.” 

*Voice Recognition- The ability of a software program to recognize and analyze spoken words and phrases and convert them into data. Comparing the popularity and convenience of touch technology iPad and iPhone, Pace said, “Voice recognition may soon become the standard in day-to-day business operations.”

*Natural Language Processing (NLP)- focuses on interactions between human languages and computers. Computer programs are able to understand spoken or written human speech. Popular examples of the technology include Amazon's Alexa, Apple's
Siri and Microsoft/ Cortana all of which use NLP to respond to user's questions. 

*Virtual Agents/Chatbots—Human like agents that can understand human
conversations and perform specific business tasks. Pace said the technology is prevalent in companies with large customer service departments. “Companies like this technology because among other things, it provides for an easier and better customer service experience for consumers,” he said.

Lastly, Holley and Pace contend the tired and still overused on the job catchphrase, 'I've done it this way for 20 years,' is a misnomer and should no longer exists in the
contemporary workplace. Holley offers this cogent bit of advice to young professionals,
millennials and seasoned workers, “Embrace a growth mindset. 'You are what you think,' is not just a new-age mantra; it's a way of becoming a director in your life, not just an actor.”

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