Future workers will need to master AI “dark arts”

Digital Science

Digital Science CEO says using AI will become second nature, like using a word processor or search engine

WHILE artificial intelligence (AI) appears scary and may threaten jobs, workers of the near future have less to fear from AI than they think if they are open to learning how to use AI as a tool that extends their capabilities. Becoming a proficient user of AI “magic” is going to be a key skill, according to Digital Science CEO Dr Daniel Hook.

With AI forming a central part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Dr Hook says the workforce has much to gain if they embrace new opportunities such as those offered by ChatGPT and other emerging AI technologies.

As a result, using AI could become less of a specialized skill set and more natural for most people in their daily working lives. 

His comments have been published on Digital Science’s new blog site, TL;DR – in a piece called “Tinker, Researcher, Prompter, Wizard.

Digital Science has adopted the abbreviation for “too long; didn’t read” and has launched its new TL;DR site to share accessible insights across five key themes:

  • Global Challenges
  • Research Integrity
  • The Future of Research
  • Open Research
  • Community Engagement

Dr Hook has a significant interest in the development of AI technologies, some of which has clearly interplayed well with the development of Digital Science, as demonstrated by investments in Dimensions and Writefull.

In his new post, Dr Hook says today’s best users of AI technology, known as “prompt engineers”, are a kind of “modern day programmer-cum-wizard who understands how to make an AI do their bidding”. He likens the skills required for getting an AI to produce a desired result as “something of a dark art”.

However, that is likely to change, he says, with AI interfaces having “the potential to fit more neatly into our daily lives and workflows than a programming interface”.

“We are living in a world where what AIs can achieve seems magical to us – one in which we are only limited by our own imaginations. The consequences are wondrous and terrifying in equal measure,” he says.

“This strange new world is one in which words have a new power that they didn’t have just a few months ago.

“Will prompt engineers be the social media superstars of tomorrow? Will they be the programmers that fuel future tools? Or, like using a word processor or search engine, will we all be required to learn some level of witchcraft?” Dr Hook asks.

He says with the emerging use of AI technology, humankind stands “in the midst of an exponential revolution” where technologies build upon and replace themselves in more rapid succession.

“While world domination by an AI is not likely in our imminent future, it is almost a certainty that jobs will change. However, if we view AI as the tool that it is, and think about how it can complement our work, we begin to position ourselves for the new world that is emerging,” he says.

Dr Hook raises a key challenge for future research collaboration: “One, perhaps scary, notion is that an AI may herald the return of the days of the lone researcher,” he says.

“I have written before that it is a conceit to believe that you can be the best writer, idea generator, experimentalist, data analyst and interpreter of data for your research. But, with Large Language Models (LLMs), you may only need to be capable of just a few of these in order to work once again alone.”

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