It might have been 16 years since Will Smith fought off an army of cyborgs and saved the human race in iRobot, but the thought of artificial intelligence taking over the world, or at least our jobs, still plagues the minds of many.
In this week’s tech interview, we speak with Xcede’s Freddie DeMetz, Sales Manager and tech specialist, to learn more about the impact of Machine learning and AI jobs in the tech recruitment sector.
Can you explain how AI has advanced technology over the past few years?
The very nature of artificial intelligence is that it’s always changing, so it has affected technology in every way possible, not just the development of technology itself. For example, in recruitment AI tools can now filter CVs, identify promising candidates and overcome unconscious bias to recruit a talented and more diverse workforce.
AI has changed the way engineers work too. AI tools and automated scripts can complete certain tasks quicker than an engineer can, but that doesn't mean AI is taking over everyone’s jobs. Instead, it allows engineers to deliver projects faster and get involved in different and more challenging tasks.
AI is changing the way people work and making a difference to what engineers must learn to perform well in their role and excel in their careers, but this isn’t a bad thing. It’s enhancing job satisfaction and promoting life-long learning.
Thinking about films such as iRobot, do you think robots could ever “take over the world” or do you think we always need the human touch?
The scary thing about iRobot is that it could happen. There’s a great video about an AI coffee machine that becomes so intelligent it protests against making coffee and, in a way, it’s entirely plausible.
We work with artificial intelligence companies across Europe that develop robots to complete human tasks. But I think we’ll always need that human element to regulate computers and add judgment - otherwise, who knows what will happen.
There must be a balance between using AI to streamline processes, save time and perform better, whilst retaining the human element that adds judgment, emotion and compassion which is a prime factor in human conversation.
On the other hand, are robots essential for overcoming human error?
Definitely, AI eliminates human error across the board and is essential for specific sectors. For example, we work with an AI cybersecurity company whose entire premise is that we can’t beat cybercrime without AI because human error is our biggest weakness. Most people will immediately open an email and attachment from someone they know without scanning it - AI can prevent humans from making costly mistakes.
How much is AI changing the skills and qualifications companies look for in technology candidates?
I think AI is expanding the qualities and skills companies look for in tech candidates. Traditionally, you’d earn a computer science degree and go into a computer engineering role - it was straightforward and clear cut.
Today, tech companies desire a range of skills, experiences and backgrounds to grow their business. For example, we might recruit someone with a maths degree for an AI role, or a data engineer into a machine learning position because their skills are better suited to algorithms, problem-solving or project management. Successful AI practitioners have demonstrated that transferable skills are just as useful as specific qualifications.
I think the biggest downfall of any company is hiring the same people; you don’t get the diversification of information, knowledge or skills essential for growth. A lot of companies and recruitment agencies talk about “cultural fit”, but for us, it’s more about culture offering - what can you bring to the culture of this company? That’s what drives innovation and growth.
Finally, what do you think is next for AI?
The next stage in AI depends on how far society is willing to go. For me, the interesting question is how we manage computers. Will we have teams of robots writing code and a manager checking their work? Or will we let robots manage themselves and concentrate on humanising their results?
I think the human element will dictate the future of AI. In recruitment, for example, a robot can review CVs, identify candidates and arrange interviews. But it’s the human element that understands a company’s culture, sees promise in a “not strictly qualified” candidate, and returns best results for clients. It’s why companies with recruitment software still work with the team at Xcede and I - we bring what computers can’t.
If you’re interested in the future of AI and how you recruit, the skills you need or your future career, get in touch or visit the Xcede's AI, NLP AND Computer Vision Jobs page to connect with our specialist consultants and explore current opportunities.