If there is one thing true of our careers, midlife professionals, it is that you are the vanguards of experience, expertise, and wisdom. You’ve journeyed through decades of training, dedication to a profession, conquering challenges, and achieving remarkable milestones.
But now, a new wave of transformation is upon us, promising to revolutionize our professional lives—Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Since the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 and the tsunami of AI tools hitting the market since then, many of you have wondered how this will impact your career or if AI will take your job away in the near or immediate future.
In this blog post, I discuss my conversation from episode 88 of The Midlife Fulfilled Podcast with special guest Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute (MAII).
My goal in this blog post is to offer you insights and a mindset to embrace the power of AI technology in your career in midlife. After all, as Paul wisely said, it’s not just about understanding AI; it’s about embracing it responsibly and productively.
Are you prepared to acknowledge that AI has already, or will soon, make its indelible mark on your work? If you’re not, my hope is that you will be by the end of this blog post.
AI is Not Going Anywhere
In the era of AI, where technological innovation happens daily and shapes how we work and interact, the transformative impact of these innovations is undeniable.
Paul Roetzer, has been on the front lines of AI’s evolution. His journey began with awe-inspiring moments like the IBM Watson Jeopardy victory in 2011.
However, his relentless curiosity and visionary spirit propelled him into a deeper exploration of AI’s capabilities, initially through the lens of marketing practices.
One of my top takeaways from this conversation with Paul is that AI is accelerating at the “speed of sound.”
Now, prior to chatGPT, we knew that more AI innovation was imminent. All of us had already been using AI without consciously using AI because it’s been baked into software that we use like Gmail and Outlook, as well as the recommendations that we get from brands like Amazon and Netflix, not to mention the algorithms that deliver content into our social media feeds based on our history. Have you ever noticed that you see brands in your social media feed after you visit their website even if you didn’t fill out a form or otherwise identify yourself?
Here’s a simple example. I recently did a quick search on YouTube for a tool that I purchased for a home project. And then, I started to get more videos suggested to me about this tool as well as related topics, not just about this tool.
I’m sure you’ve had experiences like that as well.
Having said all this, it begs the question, is AI career limiting for the midlife professional?
Are Generative AI Tools Career Limiting?
Paul and I discussed this throughout episode #88 of The Midlife Fulfilled podcast. In the episode, Paul said that one hundred million of the 132 million workers in the U. S. are knowledge workers, and the impact of AI will affect every knowledge worker in some way, shape, or form. That’s right. Every knowledge worker will be affected!
But the key takeaway for me is that AI has potential to create more opportunity. In the short term, it is possible that AI could eliminate your job, or certain activities in your job. But, if you embrace AI and learn how to harness its power, there is a good chance that YOU can identify a new or revised job that leverages AI. For example, if you’re a data analyst, AI can do some or much of the “number crunching” you’ve become an expert in. When AI can do the number crunching for you, there is an opportunity for you to propose a new role that leverages the insights from the analysis to inform strategic decisions. It’s up to you to get creative with the possibilities. But, you must be proactive about it. Don’t wait for the opportunity to fall into your lap. You need to make it happen.
It can be helpful to look at history and remember a time when machines were developed to replace factory workers on the assembly line in the manufacturing industry. While this development did create job cuts and the need for fewer employees, it resulted in several new roles and job opportunities in other areas. Similarly, when the horse and buggy industry was displaced by the automobile, a whole new industry rose that impacts nearly 8 million jobs in the U.S. alone.
So, even if AI does take your job, I want your mindset to be that AI is not career-limiting. The key is to be proactive by creating new opportunities within your industry with the use of AI systems to further your career and your industry.
Does This Apply To Every Field
Some fields will inevitably be impacted by the rise of AI faster than others. You should consider if your industry is ripe for major disruption. If it is, don’t wait until you get the call to hear that you’re being replaced by a robot.
There are specific industries that are more suited to the use AI more extensively, such as software developers, graphic designers, market research analysts, legal services, customer service roles, and certain sales positions that rely on common questions with common answers from consumers such as cell phones, insurance, and even certain business services. However, if you are proactive you can find unique ways to use AI in your day-to-day life that can enhance your midlife career stage.
As Business Insider referenced numerous times throughout this article where they discussed the ten jobs most at risk of being replaced by AI, you’ll note that experts throughout these fields also acknowledge the unlikelihood that AI will replace those jobs entirely because AI can’t do one crucial thing – provide human connection and empathy. At least, not yet.
During my conversation with Paul Roetzer, I used a crazy analogy when I said that maybe someday, AI will be able to perform certain surgeries that today are performed by trained surgeons. As this article from the American College of Surgeons points out, AI is well on its way to being a very productive resource in many forms of surgery.
Surgery is an example of AI assisting knowledge workers in healthcare. In my world, I know writers who were initially very resistant to using AI to help them write. They take great pride in researching a story, crafting it, and shaping it with the emotion and the storyline that captures their reader’s attention.
In some cases, writers are still reluctant to embrace AI to aid their writing. In other cases, writers use AI to help them generate ideas or story outlines, but the writer still has what AI doesn’t have, and that’s emotional intelligence and human interaction with the user. Now, of course, that could change one day. We don’t know.
But hopefully, my point is becoming more evident by now, and that is, are you willing to acknowledge that AI either has already or will impact your work?
Remember, AI isn’t likely to replace your job in the near future; it can empower you though. It’s time to embrace the power of AI, harness its capabilities responsibly, and steer your midlife career toward new heights of achievement. The future is bright for those who dare to adapt and lead.
How To Embrace AI In Your Midlife Career
My challenge to you, my midlife friend, and you knew this was coming: be proactive in choosing to use AI and experimenting with AI. If you need to know which tools to use, start with ChatGPT and Google BARD.
Ask questions about what’s happening in your industry with each AI tool. Each question that you ask is called a prompt. Begin a prompt broadly, and revise your prompts repeatedly to get a feel for what insights it can give you. The point is to experiment, experiment, and experiment some more.
For example, I asked (prompted) ChatGPT this question: I am a data analyst. Will AI take my job away?
The response was broken into three sections:
Prospects and Challenges in Data Analysis with AI followed by four bullet points of details.
Job Security and Evolving Roles followed by four bullet points of details.
Shaping the Future Workforce followed by three bullet points of details.
My next prompt was: How should I prepare for the disruption to my job by AI?
The response was comprised of seven points, each one with several bullet points of details followed by a conclusion.
My final prompt in this exercise was: Are there specific resources I should explore to learn more and navigate these changes?
Here I will provide a detailed response to this question from ChatGPT:
Online Courses and Platforms
Coursera: Offers courses on AI, machine learning, data analysis, and more, created by universities and companies like Stanford, Google, and IBM.
edX: Provides a platform for education and learning, offering courses from universities like MIT and Harvard.
Udacity: Focuses on technology-oriented courses, including data analysis, AI, and machine learning.
DataCamp: Specializes in data science and analytics courses, providing a practical approach to learning.
“Python Machine Learning” by Sebastian Raschka & Vahid Mirjalili: A comprehensive guide for anyone looking to explore machine learning with Python.
“Data Science for Business” by Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett: Offers insights into the core principles of data science and its application in business.
“The Hundred-Page Machine Learning Book” by Andriy Burkov: A concise guide to understanding machine learning concepts and applications.
Forums and Communities
Kaggle: A platform for data scientists and analysts that offers competitions, datasets, and forums to discuss data and AI topics.
Towards Data Science: A Medium publication offering a wide array of articles and tutorials related to data science and machine learning.
Reddit Threads: Such as r/datascience, r/machinelearning, and r/artificial where professionals and enthusiasts discuss the latest in the field.
Workshops and Conferences
NeurIPS: The Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, one of the most prominent conferences in machine learning.
KDD: The ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, which covers data science, data analytics, and deep learning.
ODSC (Open Data Science Conference): Focusing on applied data science, featuring real-world applications and developments.
Data Skeptic: Discusses topics related to data science, statistics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.
Not So Standard Deviations: Focuses on data science and statistics in the real world.
Talking Machines: Discusses machine learning and how to integrate it into the workflow of businesses.
Blogs and News Websites
The Analytics Vidhya Blog: Provides articles and tutorials on data science, machine learning, and analytics.
Towards AI: A multidisciplinary science journal that provides a platform for AI and tech-related content.
KDnuggets: A comprehensive resource offering news, tutorials, and more on data analytics and machine learning.
Professional Certificate in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence from MIT (edX): Offering a robust foundation in ML & AI.
Google Cloud Professional Data Engineer: Focusing on using Google Cloud Platform for effective data analytics.
IBM Data Science Professional Certificate (Coursera): Covers foundational data science skills, like Python, SQL, and data visualization.
Sentdex: Focuses on Python programming for various topics, including machine learning, finance, and data analysis.
Data School: Offers practical advice and tutorials for data science and machine learning, often using Python.
3Blue1Brown: Provides clear visualizations to help explain high-level mathematics, machine learning, and AI.
Journal of Machine Learning Research: Offers a wide array of academic articles on machine learning.
Artificial Intelligence Journal: Showcases articles covering theory, experiments, and applications of AI.
This example is one of a myriad of how you can experiment with AI, in this case with ChatGPT. The more you experiment, the more you will understand about it, and the more you will be empowered to figure out how to harness it in your midlife career.
I urge you to research your industry to learn how AI is being used in different ways and stay close to the developments of AI in your industry. Are your colleagues using it to enhance their problem-solving skills, help with research, complete data entry, productivity gains, or improve business processes? There may be a way for AI to help with specific tasks or repetitive tasks. If you encounter people who are active with AI in your industry, follow those people. If possible, connect with them and explore conversations to learn from each other. Network with like-minded people exploring AI in your industry to be part of a community that supports each other due to your common interests.
You may have heard it said that AI won’t take your job, but you might be replaced by someone who knows how to use AI. Another way to look at this is that AI may indeed replace your current job, but you just might be able to create a new, even more exciting role for yourself with AI.
The best approach to take with AI is to be proactive about it. There’s no guarantee of anything, but taking no action is riskier than taking some action to learn about it and keep learning about it because it’s not going anywhere. That’s why it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with AI tools and learn how to use them efficiently in your industry.
My midlife friend, in the context of being ready to pivot in your career in some way, download my free Midlife Career Reboot Workbook. Not only will this workbook help you find clarity on your next steps, but it will also help you step into your next career chapter with confidence.