Will AI destroy IT jobs?

broken-glass

One thing that’s become clear as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, neural networks and other “smart” technologies invade the workplace is that enterprises will be more reliant than ever on IT professionals to ensure that networks, applications and data are constantly ready and available.

After all, replacing a low-skilled call center rep with a chatbot is one thing; trying to keep an enterprise IT operation going 24/7/365 without experienced database administrators, network architects or information security specialists is another matter altogether.

Or is it? Over at CMSWire, writer David Roe explores six ways AI will impact the future workplace. They’re all interesting, but the one I want to focus on is fourth on Roe’s list: AI as IT Disruptor. In this section Roe quotes Bob Friday, co-founder and chief technology officer at Mist, a wireless network developer based in Cupertino, Calif.

Roe notes that a number of startups are working on ways to use AI to improve IT performance through natural language processing (NLP), which makes it easier for humans to interact efficiently with machines. That sounds pretty good, right? Well, yeah, but then there’s this:

“In addition,” Roe writes, “they are using machine learning, neural networks, and data mining technologies to proactively identify or predict problems, understand the cause and scope of anomalies, and recommend solutions, with the goal being completely self-healing IT infrastructures.”

Friday tells Roe:

Today, we have done a great job collecting data, classifying it with domain knowledge, and then using machine learning and other techniques to turn this information into actionable insight. But the next step is still ahead of us – where the network proactively and automatically corrects on its own.

The concept of self-healing networks isn’t new — I found a paper on them from 1993 without even looking hard — but the technologies that enable self-healing now are becoming a reality. And if you have a network that monitors and fixes itself — or even better, proactively avoids problems and outages — do you really need all those expensive IT people checking network performance, managing databases and conducting routine maintenance tasks?

I’m fairly certain many enterprise decision-makers would see a chance to save money by reducing IT headcount. However, as I wrote in February, that’s a risky strategy:

Some enterprise leaders may believe that smart technologies give them a competitive advantage, but over time what automation and intelligent machines actually will do is level the playing field. Enterprises that transform automation/AI merely into an opportunity to hack their payrolls may ultimately regret their shortsightedness . . . because by slashing the workforce they run the risk of giving away their most valuable competitive assets, which are people.

Do you think completely self-healing IT infrastructures will mean the end of certain IT jobs? Let us know in the comments section below.

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