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4IR in South Africa - 2. ChatGPT & Skills for The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

In the lead up the future discussions around ChatGPT, the hot topic right now, we look briefly at the skills required and descriptors of facets of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

First, Looking at the occupations that will be in high demand during 4IR (Civin et. al., 2019: p.22-31) pose experts in the following fields will be needed:

· Nanotechnology

· Artificial intelligence (AI)

· Internet of things (IoT)

· Cybersecurity

· Internet governance

· Social media

· Machine learning

· Robotics

· 3D Printing

· Autonomous vehicles

The world of 2022 and 4IR going forward presents one of constant, change and has been described by the acronym VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). This indicates a world of rapid change, to which adaption and evolution are critical. It is posed that one would benefit from having the ability to use EHoM (Engineering Habits of Mind) in this context to develop the ten most important skills for the workplace as provided by (Gray, 2016) as outlined by the World Economic Forum (Cited by Civin et. al., 2019: p. 32-37):

· Complex problem solving

· Critical thinking

· Creativity

· People management

· Coordinating with others

· Judgement and decision making

· Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

· Service orientation

· Negotiation

· Cognitive flexibility

Now, we look at one of the aspects of 4IR that has already become a talking point around the world, AI. Brought into the public spotlight, ChatGPT seems to be the revolutionary 'life-hack' that the world was waiting for. As with the internet before it, computers before that and calculators before them, we are faced with a dilemma.

Take notice that the skills needed for 4IR strongly suggest that as we move toward less of a humanly operated society through the use of advanced AI, the need for very 'human' qualities in the people who create and programme these technologies, is more critical than technical knowledge itself.

Will the use of sophisticated AI make humans lazy? Will it make our jobs redundant? Who will stand to benefit the most? Is it the haves, large company owners and rich people? Who stands to suffer the most, lower to middle-class people whose jobs would be at risk? Can AI make ethical decisions? Who will be accountable for the actions of AI when its decision-making results in a crime being committed or, worse, a loss of life?

How will legislation govern the accountability of the actions of AI?

I foresee many thought-provoking debates on the horizon.

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Civin, A.B., Huxtable, B.A., Anderson, W., Hopkins, B., Ramhurry, C., Shelton. S. (2019). The Fourth Industrial Revolution at Work. First Edition. Edge Learning Media. ISBN 978-1-77612-347-6.

Gray, A. (2016). The 10 skills you need to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution. World Economic Forum website. The-10-skills-you-need-to-thrive-in the-fourth-industrial-revolution. Accessed 17 December 2018.

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