AI is coming, and will take some jobs, but no need to worry

There will still be plenty of work to go around so job prospects should remain good

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"To establish legitimacy for an AI driven decision, the CSO must help the rest of the business leaders advocate and explain that process to the world," he said. "It isn’t going to be easy, but it will put the CSO at the heart of every business."

Finding ways to apply AI to a business will also require a different way of thinking.

"A successful AI strategy requires very multi-disciplinary skills," said Hossein Rahnama, CEO and founder at Flybits, and a visiting scholar at the Human Dynamics group at the MIT Media Lab.

"Many AI experts are very much siloed in the past, and lack the experience of communicating business use cases. Translating AI research into business value is something very important."

To get training in this area, he recommends looking at programs that combine a foundational understanding of AI with an understanding of public policy implications.

"There are a number of universities working on programs directly addressing those needs," he said. "Stanford is looking there, and there are some interesting initiatives at MIT."

There are also learning opportunities available beyond traditional colleges and universities and training institutes, said Kunal Anand, CTO and co-founder at security firm Prevoty.

He recommends attending conferences around machine learning and data science, and subscribing to blogs and mailing lists.

"And look at open source projects," he added. "The best way to learn is to build."

Branching out

Security analysts typically don't have to write new code at their jobs. But there could be more opportunities to do that in the future.

"Learn to code," said SendGrid's Campbell. "Professionals seeking careers in security will need to be able to code in order to be successful."

He suggested languages like Python, Ruby and Node.js.

"Being able to code and interpret these languages will help career prospects differentiate themselves and provide greater value for organizations looking to automate security tasks," he said.

On a higher level as well, security professionals can help improve their companies' software. Automated tools can spot common vulnerabilities, but it takes a human to understand logical flaws, said Giovanni Vigna, co-founder and CTO at Lastline.

"For example, the fact that a coupon in an e-commerce application should be applicable only once is something that is immediately obvious to a human," he said.

That might not be, strictly speaking, a technical vulnerability, but it is a security issue, and requires human judgment, and imagination, to understand.

"No amount of AI would allow a program to understand what a program does in every case," Vigna said. "It’s actually a fundamental theorem of computer science, called 'The Halting Problem'."

Computers will also lag behind in leading and innovating, said Peter Metzger, vice chairman and cybersecurity and business risk expert at DHR International, an executive search firm.

"We're still going to need people to lead, decide, and get things done," he said.

Providing business value

As the routine tasks get automated, humans will be able to focus on making strategic, values-driven decisions.

That will require a true understanding of the business, and how that is intertwined with technology, said Diana Kelley, global executive security adviser for IBM Security.

"I recommend that cybersecurity pros beef up their 360-degree skills," she said. "Get an understanding of the business, an understanding of the stakeholders in their work."

That could involve in working closely with the legal department and understanding what they do, or helping with media outreach or marketing.

"This is extremely challenging and difficult," she said. "But to be valuable, you need to understand how people are interacting with their technology. Cybersecurity is a very fascinating area that is very horizontal, it goes through all the areas of a business."

Another area that cybersecurity pros can look at is that of education.

"Humans are great at explaining things to other humans," she said. "That is something that we see at IBM. Someone who can explain things in a clear way that someone else can understand can be very valuable, not just for other security professionals, but also for a general audience, too."

And if the education task involves teaching the AI systems how to do cybersecurity, InfoSec experts shouldn't be worried that they are a traitor to humanity, she added.

"You're a helper to humanity," she said. "There is so much data and it's so hard to keep up with it that this is about throwing out that life jacket, helping people to float. It's not about getting rid of humans. It's about making our existing humans super-human."

This story, "AI is coming, and will take some jobs, but no need to worry" was originally published by CSO.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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