The year 2022 ushered in groundbreaking technology in the artificial intelligence technological landscape with the launch of ChatGPT, an AI robot capable of mimicking human-like conversations. Alongside ChatGPT, other notable technologies, such as Midjourney, a regenerative software application which relies on existing images and artwork, have entered the scene. Nevertheless, as is customary with significant technological advancements, the widespread emergence of AI sparked mixed sentiments among proponents, critics, progressives, and technologically conservative individuals.
The innovations mentioned have wide-ranging applications, including within the creative industry. However, using such technologies also led to legal disputes, as Getty Images sued London-based Stability AI for allegedly copying over 12 billion images from their database to train their software. This incident highlights just one facet of the multifaceted challenges associated with AI.
The rapid growth of AI technology has raised global concerns, prompting calls for its regulation and giving rise to ethical concerns, including issues related to intellectual property theft. Additionally, AI’s rapid infiltration into various sectors has stoked anxieties regarding job security across industries.
Elon Musk, former co-founder of OpenAI, has advocated for building safeguards into AI. He argues that these artificial intelligence systems can potentially replace humans, rendering them irrelevant. Musk has called for a slowdown in AI development alongside other tech leaders. Their rationale is based on the idea that AI technology is advancing in unpredictable and uncontrollable ways and that it should only be developed further once it has been ascertained that its impact will be positive and its risks manageable.
Artificial intelligence refers to creating machines or systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. As part of the global community, Zambia is not exempt from the potential impact of AI technology on job security. AI has rapidly infiltrated various sectors of Zambia, including media and customer service. Routine tasks, once the cornerstone of these industries, are now vulnerable to automation. According to experts, chief among them are low-risk, knowledge-based jobs, such as copywriting and content moderation. This highlights the urgency of addressing the evolving employment landscape to cultivate a human-friendly work environment.
This problem, however, presents a unique opportunity for the Zambian workforce to leverage human-centric skills, embrace continuous learning, and adopt a collaborative approach to AI, thus fostering a new era of resilience in the workplace.
Leveraging Professional Networks
There is an apparent threat to employment; the job losses and changes in the employment landscape due to increased mechanisation during the Industrial Revolution are still prevalent today. It is evident that human-centric skills now hold immense value.
The adage, “Your network is your net worth,” holds true in the era of AI. Professionals can safeguard their positions by enhancing their interpersonal relationships and collaborative skills. These skills, rooted in emotional intelligence and creativity, set them apart from AI and machine learning. While AI excels at processing vast data, it cannot form genuine connections with humans.
By actively nurturing a robust professional network through networking, collaboration, and connections, Zambian professionals can enhance their job security through their network, which has the potential to create access to alternative employment options, demonstrating how interpersonal relationships and collaboration can be invaluable for career stability.
Continuous Evolution of Zambian Professionals
Professionals can proactively evolve alongside AI by recognising the gaps it creates in traditional careers and capitalising on niche opportunities. By developing skills that complement AI and learning the AI tools to discover how they can contribute to their organisation’s objectives and provide value, especially during these early phases of AI integration, they can distinguish themselves as authorities in their domains. A myriad of career opportunities and roles dedicated to overseeing and shaping AI governance and policy within organisational settings is set to emerge. Key areas such as data privacy, protection, and ethical considerations will continuously evolve and require dedicated teams to design and manage governing frameworks for corporations, schools, healthcare organisations, and even national governance, as AI is not without flaws and still necessitates human oversight and review.
Early Adoption of AI Technology on a National Level
In order to optimise artificial intelligence and provide contextual accuracy, relevance, and understanding of Zambian culture, efforts need to be mobilised to gather quality research on a wide range of Zambian-centred topics. Although The Central Statistical Office systematically collects a range of studies and research papers on economics and population studies, independent researchers must research topical developments in subjects such as technology and sociology to fill in the gaps. Good quality data collection and management is a prerequisite to creating intelligent systems.
Collaborative AI Adoption in Zambia
Despite the threat AI poses to job security, there exists an opportunity for enhanced efficiency and effectiveness of Zambian professionals. By learning how to use the tools, AI has the potential to augment workflow and processes by perfecting routine tasks and minimising the margin of error while increasing productivity. Zambia has the benefit of a large population of young people. Initiatives should be targeted at sensitising the youth on harnessing AI’s power. In agriculture, AI solutions based on historical data may provide precise predictions for crop management, leading to increased yields and reduced wastage.
Innovating for Resilience
Innovation lies at the heart of job security in Zambia’s evolving market. Local businesses and individuals have a unique opportunity to identify the gaps not addressed by AI and capitalise on these opportunities to create unique value propositions. Zambian organisations can carve out their space in the AI era by focusing on niches and unmet needs. For instance, Zambian schools have begun adopting artificial intelligence to offer personalised learning experiences in the education sector. One such application is for students with advanced learning needs. Instead of outsourcing this education, schools have integrated AI that adapts to the student’s learning style, enabling them to grasp concepts better and ensuring that students receive tailored support.
Whichever way we look at it, artificial intelligence is here to stay. Change is the only constant, and the improvement of humanity’s quality of life has always been closely linked to the development of technology since the invention of the wheel. Therefore, the best action is to develop a collaborative and adaptive approach to artificial intelligence through strategic thinking and continuous growth. In this light, the Zambian professional has the agency to secure their position amidst the AI disruption.