The recent years have seen increasing talks regarding the 4th industrial revolution. A revolution is because it leads to change in quality and methods of manufacturing, and includes possibility of brings deep and widespread changes to the entire humanity. In fact, everyone in the present (you) and the future (you kids) will be heavily affected by this revolution, whether you like it or not.
Those are why acknowledging challenges and opportunities during this time is vital, for you can only plan your studies and actions properly with good knowledge and orientation.
1. Why is there the 4th industrial revolution?
Before going for the 4th, perhaps we should skim through a little bit of the three previous revolutions during the past three centuries. In the 18th century, the invention of mechanical machines had led to automation in all fields, increase in work efficiency, thus starting the 1st industrial revolution. Meanwhile, the invention of steam engines in the 19th century had kick-started the 2nd industrial revolution, creating a path for industrialized countries to rule the world. The 20th century saw a brand new level of innovation, with unforeseeable speeds from the invention of electricity, radio, phone, computer, and the internet. These inventions had exponentially accelerated the rate of development.
Now, we are in the 21st century and 4th industrial revolution – one predicted to change humanity more tremendously and comprehensively than every before. The core of this new revolution lies in the quick development of AI – Artificial Intelligence, or specifically, of ML – Machine Learning.
Researches on AI and ML had started since the 1950s, but had only sped up since the early 2000s, along with the explosion in data and information. Here, the red line of the graph on Figure 1 (Professor Hiroshi Motoda, Osaka University) represents this boom. You can see from the Stone Age to before 2000, amount of information gathered grow slowly and bare notable. However, from 2000 til now, its growth is so tremendous that the representing line is steep and even almost vertical.
Data is the fuel to algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in the same way petroleum is the fuel to engines. If there is little petroleum and a small engine, we can only produce and ride motorbikes at around some hundred kilometers per hour. However, if there are more petroleum of high quality, along with developments in technology, we can produce large engines that runs airplanes and spaceships at around thousands of kilometers per second.
It can be said that the boom of data and smart algorithm had been the deciding factor to the quick growth of ML and AI. And these two technologies are those the lead to this 4th industrial revolution.
2. Movements in the job market
Throughout history, the job market is divided into 3 major areas of (1) agriculture, (2) industrial, and (3) service. In the 18th centuries, most work in agriculture, and very little in industrial and service. But after the industrial revolution, many moved to industrial and service, and very little stayed in agriculture. In the new age, however, most industrial jobs will be automatized, seeing that machines and algorithms have much better work efficiency than humans.
The interesting thing is that, AI algorithms had, and are replacing not only simple, low-skill jobs like factory workers, stock realtors, but also jobs that require higher intelligence like chess players, strategy gamers, face and voice identification, or even musicians, artists, and so on.
In 2013, the two scientists Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne from Oxford University had published a scientific paper on the future job market. You can download and read the paper HERE.
The paper researches the possibility of replacement by computer algorithms of various different fields in the next 20 years. They had surveyed 702 different careers, then calculated their rates of replacement with automation.
Below are those most likely to be replaced:
Telesales, telemarketers, insurance sellers, and realtors of all kinds are most likely to eliminated from the job market.
And these are those least likely to be replaced:
Jobs that require more skills or are less profitable will have more chance of persisting, such as archaeologists.
3. What should we and our children study?
It is hard to get an accurate view of the job market in the 2030s or 2040s. However, jobs related to statistics, computer and algorithm programming, or Data Science in general, are sure to be of higher demand in the future.
When electricity and mechanical engines were created, people use them in every career, this is called electrification. Those who specialized in related careers then never had to worry about losing their jobs. The future, as such, will be the land for those who work in algorithms and AI, where data science is implemented in all fields, creating new values.
It is not random that many large universities around the world had started to open new majors related to data science. In Vietnam of the past 2 years, universities like VNU University of Science and Hanoi University of Science & Technology, had also opened new majors related to this field. These are good and trending majors, as well as perfectly reasonable.
If there is the chance, I will write an article that discuss Data Science briefly for those unfamiliar with the field.
This article is the personal opinion of the author, so it is possible that you disagree and have other perspectives. Relevant comments, feedbacks, and discussions, are of course, welcome.
Le Hong Phuong
Data Science Laboratory, University of Science, Vietnam National University