Rhonda Scharf’s “Alexa is Stealing Your Job”
Rhonda Scharf’s Alexa is Stealing Your Job: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Your Future is the latest book from a globally respected and recognized consultant, public speaker, and trainer with over a quarter century of experience on the front lines of professional life. Her long history in these roles gives more than a little credence to her perspectives and ideas and those she promotes in this book on the subject of AI should garner your attention and further reflection. Much has been written in the last decade about the fast approaching AI revolution and how it will reinvent the global workforce in a top to down fashion rendering future societal structure all but recognizable for those of us living today. Scharf makes no bones about the nature of these coming changes and backs up her analysis with well-chosen data substantiating her position.
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She touches on a remarkable amount of topics in such a short work. Scharf focuses many pages towards debunking the alarmist point of view that AI is a harbinger of humanity’s coming doom, but she gives a human face to those sort concerns by relating personal memories of her own entry into the workforce and how the profusion of computer technology decades ago pushed many out who either did not want or could not adept to the altered landscape. It is important to the work how she notes such reactions are natural for humans to manifest towards challenging or alien concepts, but the heart of Scharf’s message is inspirational.
She views the paradigm shift towards AI as one creating rather than inhibiting opportunity. Humans will be always be required in some capacity and those who seize the future rather than recoiling from it in horror or indignation are rewarded accordingly. Later sections of the book touch on the history of robotics and machine intelligence in our culture without ever losing readers in reams of minutia on the topic; an overview, however, does provide us with welcome historical footing for the book’s concerns. She likewise draws from examples, both pro and con, of organizations and communities responses to changing landscapes to further illustrate how perception is a key factor in how we approach the future.
She devotes a sizable chunk of the text to a list of professions and their percentage chances of upheaval as a result of AI. This might be a reassuring or depressing addition to the book, depending on what you do for a paycheck, but its inclusion strengthens its value as a reference for potential readers, though it is likely to be outdated one way or another in fairly short order. This is a book for the moment, however – there’s no feeling reading Alexa is Stealing Your Job that Scharf trained her eye towards posterity as she assembled the text. This isn’t a slight, however; all writers produce work with clear goals and aims. Rhonda Scharf’s book is no exception and Alexa is Stealing Your Job: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Your Future meets her benchmarks with intelligence and insight to spare.