How AI is Shaping the Fight Against Covid-19 and Creating New Jobs
Where is artificial intelligence when we need it most? What happened to the AI promise of helping us predict and anticipate the future? The answer: AI is on the frontline in shaping the fight against Covid-19.
Beneath all the bad news – rising coronavirus cases, job losses, economic turmoil, death, shines a ray of hope. It’s not all doom and gloom.
Scientists, researchers, organizations, and authorities are using AI to combat Covid-19. Along the way, AI is not only helping bring the pandemic closer to an end but creating much-needed jobs.
We look at how individuals, companies, and governments are using AI and machine learning. What are the AI jobs arising due to the pandemic? Will they last post-coronavirus? What do they entail, and what kind of skills do you need to land these jobs of the future successfully? How do you get these coveted skills?
Buckle up and let’s dive right in.
What is AI?
Artificial intelligence, also called machine intelligence, is an area of computer science that advocates the creation of machines that think, work, and react like humans. AI has been used in speech recognition, planning, problem-solving, computer vision, among other areas.
However, AI is evolving rapidly, and with it, the industry definition.
AI and Covid-19
Amidst the turmoil and disruption of the pandemic, news on AI efforts against Covid-19 keeps making headlines. Scientists and researchers increasingly rely on AI to develop innovative solutions to diagnose and treat Covid-19 symptoms.
Here are some examples from around the world:
- Baptist Health, a Kentucky-based health facility, uses an AI-based platform to track over 20 Covid-19 patients.
- Vocalis Health, an Israeli tech startup, is working with hospitals and other institutions to sample Coronavirus patients’ voices through a mobile application. They use voice analysis for remote diagnosis and monitoring.
- Mayo Clinic is working with the state’s health department to create an AI-powered system that identifies high-risk Covid-19 transmission areas in Southern Minnesota.
- UC San Diego Health deployed an AI-algorithm to analyze more than 2,000 lung X-ray images from Covid-19 patients. The results helped radiologists quickly identify early pneumonia symptoms in virus patients.
- The Argentinian health ministry is using a platform by AI startup SparkBeyond to look at how the country can ease restrictions and allow citizens to return to work while minimizing the economic impact.
- In Singapore, health facilities are tapping AI clinical chat assistants to help doctors and frontline healthcare workers keep abreast of Covid-19 news, research, and developments. The app uses a natural language processing interface to extract and present clinical information from different data sources.
- Researchers in Singapore are using artificial intelligence to develop new drug combinations that can be used to treat Covid-19 patients.
- Scientists in the U.K have used AI to uncover an arthritis drug that can be used to reduce the effects of an out-of-control immune system response that damages the lungs. The drug, baricitinib, is undergoing clinical trials in the U.S.
Besides these anecdotal headlines in AI’s fight against Covid-19, the technology is helping in other areas.
For example, authorities use AI to predict situations and deploy resources accordingly.
It’s also being used to diagnose and contact-trace Covid-19 suspected patients. For instance, AI thermal scanners deployed in public spaces can spot people with fever even when they wear sunglasses, surgical masks, or headgear. This reduces the need for a manual process and minimizes personal disruptions.
Artificial intelligence, in conjunction with Robotic Process Automation (RPA), is a particularly useful technology in the battle against the pandemic. Hospitals are using robots to interact with Covid-19 patients. They reduce doctor-patient contact and significantly reduces costs around personal protective gear.
While these developments are few and far between, they don’t capture all the jobs created in the industry. According to estimates, AI-related jobs could increase by 16% in 2020, reaching a milestone total of 969,000.
What are these jobs of the future?
Five most in-demand AI jobs in the fight against Covid-19
Machine learning engineer
Machine learning engineers earn a median salary of more than $114,846 (92,500 pounds). They mostly work in developing and managing machine learning platforms.
The role is suitable for professionals with a background in applied research and data science. Potential candidates also need experience with agile development practices in addition to software development tools.
Most job postings require candidates to have strong computer programming skills, analytical skills, and experience with cloud-based applications.
Data scientists collect, analyze, and interpret large data sets by utilizing machine learning and predictive analytics. They also help collect and clean data for analysis. For example, data scientists are helping collect research data around Covid-19 to feed it to machine learning algorithms.
According to a 2018 LinkedIn Workforce Report, the U.S. faces a shortage of 151,717 data scientists.
Commanding an annual median salary of $120,931, data scientists are highly sought in AI’s fight against Covid-19.
Candidates looking for data scientist positions need hands-on working knowledge with data platforms like Hive, Hadoop, Spark, MapReduce, etc. They must also demonstrate strong analytical and communication skills.
Research scientists are another high-demand profession in AI’s fight against Covid-19. These individuals possess expertise in multiple AI disciplines such as applied mathematics, machine learning, and computational statistics.
They earn a median salary of $99,809.
Companies require research scientist candidates to have a deep understanding of parallel computing, distributed computing, and machine learning. They must also demonstrate hands-on technical knowledge of natural language processing, reinforcement learning, etc.
Business intelligence developer
Not all AI jobs revolve around research. Business intelligence developers analyze complex data sets to identify trends and market opportunities.
Given the scale and resources needed in the fight against Covid-19, health facilities and authorities are using AI to predict and optimize resource deployment and usage.
Business intelligence developers create the systems needed to improve operational efficiency and minimize resource waste. They are responsible for designing, modeling, and maintaining data in cloud-based platforms.
Candidates must possess strong analytical and technical skills and have experience in data warehouse design, SQL queries, SQL Server Integration Services.
BI developers command an annual median salary of $92,278.
Big data engineer/architect
Data is the heartbeat of any AI-related operation. Big data engineers develop the ecosystem that empowers business systems to communicate and exchange data. They are tasked with planning, designing, and creating big data environments on Hadoop and other systems.
Commanding an annual median salary of $151,307, big data engineers are among the top-paying artificial intelligence jobs.
Candidates should demonstrate strong programming experience with Python, C++, Java, etc. They must also show in-depth expertise in data mining, visualization, and data migration.
The skills you need to work in AI.
The skills you need to work in artificial intelligence fall into two categories.
- Technical skills
- Non-technical skills
AI is an intensively scientific field. Your work is to try to mimic the human brain in machines. As such, you need a varied skill set, but all require extensive education, passion, and focus.
Most AI jobs require expertise in a variety of STEM-related topics like:
- Science: mechanics, cognitive learning theory, language processing
- Math – algebra, calculus, probability, Bayesian algorithms, and logic
- Computer science: programming, logic, data structures, data warehousing
Artificial intelligence is a growing field. Those at the leading edge must, therefore, have a knack for looking at problems from a different perspective.
Some of the non-technical qualities you need to succeed in your AI career include:
- Critical thinking and a strong belief in trial and error.
- Tenacity and the ability to push boundaries in terms of ideas, hardware, and software.
- Curiosity: Pros in the field want to know how and why things work.
- Resilience to appreciate the field’s technical rigor and venture into uncharted waters.
- Love for math and science.
How to get a job in AI
Besides the standard skillset and education, you can take further steps to improve your application/candidacy. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a veteran or new in the field.
Here are the top recommendations from top artificial intelligence professionals
- Read a lot. Study the industry. Checkout blogs, papers, case studies, etc. Experiment with machine learning technologies and platforms such as MySql, MapReduce, cloud-based systems, etc. Also, check out online courses.
- Join AI-related organizations. Learning from other professionals in the field can help sharpen your skills— checkout local groups, hackathons, meetups, etc.
- Understand the business landscape. While many AI jobs are technical, you must understand how to translate technological developments to business and consumer needs. Your ability to effectively communicate and break down complex issues will elevate your worth in the industry.
Pro tip: Browse through AI job openings. Check out the job descriptions and look at the requirements and specific qualifications needed for the job. Then work on those skills.
AI is undoubtedly influencing the fight against Covid-19. It’s also opening hitherto unexplored job opportunities. These jobs require people to reskill, upskill, and gain access to data for practice. However, the effort is worth it.
Regardless of your dream AI job, there’s no better way to figure out the skills you need than from the job description.
Luckily, AIjobs has countless job listings to help you stay up-to-date with industry requirements and land a job in the AI/machine learning industry.
Find the latest AI jobs on the Aijobs board. Start or grow your career in these jobs of the future.