A number of tech trends have experienced massive growth and innovation in recent years, among them artificial intelligence, virtual reality, wearables, and wireless tech. We asked a panel of leading experts what recent graduates and job-seekers can expect in these fields in the coming years.
Here’s what they had to say.
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Artificial Intelligence – Automation and Machine Learning
Douglas Fisher: Many AI jobs will be broadly concerned with designing and implementing automation. They’ll be distributed across many sectors, including retail, transportation, and healthcare. However, for the most part, they won’t be about full automation because experience suggests this is fraught with problems. Rather, integrating humans and AI to do tasks that were previously done by humans or AI alone is probably the future.
So, AI professionals will be working on teams with HCI (human-computer interaction) professionals, and it’s likely that expertise in this area will be a plus. The products they produce will include mobile devices, as well as intelligent personal assistants that work with, rather than frustrate, their owners.
Machine learning will also continue to be a dominant AI subfield for some time. And there is plenty of room to improve AI in games and both social and environmental simulations.
Vanderbilt University professor of computer science and computer engineering, Fisher, also serves as the director for outreach, education, diversity, and synthesis for CompSustNet, a US National Science Foundation-sponsored research network used to explore new directions in computational sustainability. He authored the article “Recent Advances in AI for Computational Sustainability.”
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Artificial Intelligence – Careful Engineering and Governance
Joanna J. Bryson: Clearly learning will continue to see growth but is also already swamped with talent. But if you look at the details (rather than the hype) in a recent AlphaGo paper or indeed our article you’ll see what really needs to be done, which is careful engineering. There’s a lot of work already happening in industries that require transparency (like medicine and finance) in making machine learning auditable. I think there’s going to be a lot of work coming up in building safe and assured systems, that require understanding systems engineering, concurrency, and security as well as AI and ML.
Also, I think there will be a lot of work at the interface of regulation, on corporate boards, etc., so people skills and understanding of governance and law can all be useful. But the basics of probability that underlie machine learning and data science will probably be marketable for quite some time, especially if you couple them with the skills and patience to extract data from websites etc. and with developing visualizations.
Bryson is a transdisciplinary researcher on the structure and dynamics of human- and animal-like intelligence. She is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath and an affiliate of the Princeton Center of Technology Policy. She co-authored “Standardizing Ethical Design for Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems.”
Virtual and Augmented Reality – Blending Real and Virtual Worlds
Laura Trutoiu: I predict that as more mixed and augmented reality consumer products appear on the market, at the compute level you’ll need to find a lot more spatial context understanding. In August 2018, at Magic Leap, we launched the Magic Leap One Creator Edition, a spatial computing system that allows you to seamlessly blend the real and digital worlds.
With Magic Leap One, the computer becomes something that understands the space around you and can provide you with tailored information based on what you are doing and where you are located. Imagine having your whole room as a desktop with your wearable understanding that you are placing digital objects on the table and finding them there again when you return. My hope is that in the near future computers will be making full use of our environment. The term we use for this kind of technology at Magic Leap is spatial computing.
Trutoiu is a senior computer scientist in Magic Leap’s Advanced Technology office in Seattle and a domain expert in virtual and mixed reality. Her research spans computer graphics, human perception, and sensing/interaction for virtual and mixed reality systems.
Wearables – Hacker Prevention
Tom Suder: The careers that will see the most growth include those involving cutting-edge wearable development and device management as a service. I think security will also be huge. People worry that their wearable devices will be hacked, which is a significant risk.
Suder is the president and founder of Mobilegov, which provides customers with mobile services such as application development. He is also strategic adviser for the University of Central Florida’s Mixed Emerging Technology Integration Lab, which focuses on the R&D of innovative mobile technology and Web 2.0 applications. He co-authored the article “The New Wearable Computing Frontier.”
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Wireless Technology – Mission-Critical Functions
Jeffrey Reed: Careers in the security and information assurance of wireless systems will grow because an increasing number of mission-critical functions will depend on wireless technologies. Furthermore, as more wireless networks interconnect with one another in the future, more vulnerabilities will have to be addressed.
Reed is professor of electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech University and president of PFP Cybersecurity. He co-authored the article “A Communications Jamming Taxonomy.”
About Lori Cameron
Lori Cameron is Senior Writer for IEEE Computer Society publications and digital media platforms with over 20 years of technical writing experience. She is a part-time English professor and winner of two 2018 LA Press Club Awards. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on LinkedIn.