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Dhruv Agrawal on Future-proofing Your Career.

Dhruv Agrawal, COO & Co-Founder of Shipsy–a product leader with depth in AI. I love solving real-life problems through new-age technologies and believe in simpler solutions to complex problems.

What's your career journey been like and how has that led you to be an authority on this topic?

My career began as an engineering graduate from IIT Delhi, class of 2013. But even before that, the world of technology and its potential to improve how we live fascinated me. In 2015, I co-founded Shipsy– today a leading AI-powered logistics management platform with 220+ customers across the globe. During my graduation days, I was working on autonomous vehicles at Carnegie Mellon. Over the years, I've gained insights into how AI, robotics, and ML are reshaping industries. From the early days at Shipsy, we have been working with one of the oldest industries in the world and trying to solve real-world problems through a mix of AI, software engineering, cloud technologies, big data etc.

Are there specific jobs in your industry at higher risk of AI disruption?

AI is transforming the landscape of industries across the globe, creating both opportunities and challenges for workers and businesses. In this response, I will discuss how AI is impacting the information technology and computer-related sector, jobs that can be completely automated, and jobs that are emerging or evolving in the presence of AI. According to a recent study by Goldman Sachs, nearly 29% of computer-related tasks have the potential to be automated by AI. This means that some jobs that involve routine, repetitive, such as data entry, software testing, or customer service, could be executed or augmented by AI systems. However, this does not mean that these jobs will disappear entirely. Rather, they will require workers to adapt their skills and roles to work alongside AI systems or to transition to other areas of the industry. On the other hand, AI is also creating new roles that require high-skill, creative, and strategic thinking. For example, AI strategists are responsible for designing and implementing AI solutions for businesses. AI engineers are responsible for developing and maintaining AI systems. AI ethicists are responsible for ensuring that AI systems are aligned with ethical principles and values, and AI educators are responsible for teaching and training workers and customers on how to use AI systems effectively. These jobs require workers to have a deep understanding of AI technologies, as well as the ability to communicate, collaborate, and problem-solve with diverse stakeholders. Therefore, AI is not a threat but an opportunity for the information technology-related sector. It is a tool that can enhance human capabilities and enable new possibilities for innovation and growth. However, it also requires people and businesses to be agile, adaptable, and proactive in embracing the changes that AI brings. As a co-founder of Shipsy, I am passionate about leveraging AI to create value for our customers and partners while also ensuring that our AI solutions are ethical, responsible, and human-centric.

What skills do you think young professionals should learn to stay employable in a world with AI?

I strongly believe in the power of curiosity and constant learning. AI isn't a threat but a 10x productivity booster that can help us become significantly more efficient and effective in our day-to-day work. However, to leverage AI's potential, we need to develop skills that enable us to work with AI systems rather than against them. As AI continues to shape the modern workplace, certain skills become essential for young professionals to stay ahead. Here's my perspective: 1. Commitment to Continuous Learning: In today's fast-changing world, being open to learning and adapting is key. It's not just about knowing your current role but also about understanding how AI can play a part in it. 2. Emotional Intelligence: This is about being in tune with your feelings and those of others. It helps in working well with teams and understanding clients. Even as tech grows, this human skill remains something AI can't fully capture. 3. Problem-Solving Skills: With AI coming into play, challenges can get complex. Being able to think through such challenges, see different angles, and come up with solutions is critical. AI can provide data, but the final decisions need a human touch. 4. Understanding AI Tools: It's helpful to get familiar with AI tools relevant to your industry. It boosts your skills and also helps you see where AI can be used best – and where it should be used with caution.

How can AI help business owners and executives make better decisions?

AI is tremendously powerful in handling vast amounts of data. This can revolutionize decision-making processes for business leaders. Some examples: - Trend Detection: Through its data-analysis capabilities, AI helps in recognizing emerging market trends. This aids business leaders in staying ahead of the curve and adjusting their strategies proactively. - Predictive Analysis: AI's predictive algorithms can forecast outcomes with enhanced precision. This provides executives with insights that can shape more informed and proactive decisions. - Risk Mitigation: By analyzing historical and real-time data, AI can identify potential business risks, allowing companies to develop effective strategies to manage or negate them. Data-Driven Strategy Development: With AI providing a wealth of analytical insights, executives can make decisions rooted in solid data, reducing the reliance on intuition alone. It can help leaders become more self-sufficient and less dependent on people to provide data insights. That way, they can also ensure that they get a completely unbiased view of things.

What ethical issues should businesses consider when using AI?

I feel companies are adopting AI at an unprecedented pace. However, some more awareness is required on the front of ethical considerations: - Data Privacy: AI systems are heavily reliant on vast quantities of data. It's imperative for businesses to handle this data with utmost integrity, ensuring lawful, transparent, and secure methods in its collection, storage, and use. Consent of individuals whose data is being used is paramount, and businesses should refrain from unauthorized sharing or selling of this data. - Algorithmic Bias and Discrimination: AI algorithms can mirror or even magnify existing human biases present in the data, algorithms, or their applications. Ensuring that AI systems are developed, trained, and tested to minimize such biases is crucial, particularly to protect vulnerable or marginalized groups. Continuous monitoring and evaluation of these systems will help in timely interventions to rectify biases. - Transparency, Explainability, and Accountability: The decisions made by AI systems can have far-reaching implications. As such, businesses should prioritize transparency, offering clear insights into how these systems operate—the data they employ, the criteria they adhere to, and the outcomes they yield. Mechanisms for human oversight, review, and feedback should also be in place, ensuring AI decisions remain accountable. - Human Dignity, Autonomy, and Augmentation vs. Replacement: Interactions between AI systems and humans can influence behaviors, emotions, and values. Ensuring that these systems respect human dignity and autonomy is essential, and businesses should ensure AI's use doesn't infringe upon human rights or freedoms. Furthermore, the focus should be on using AI to enhance human capabilities instead of simply replacing them. - Long-Term Implications: It's vital for businesses to consider the potential long-term societal and economic impacts of their AI-driven initiatives. By diligently addressing these ethical considerations, businesses can contribute to the overall responsibility of AI safety.

How will AI impact leadership and management?

AI's transformative power presents both unprecedented opportunities and challenges for leadership and management. Some areas to consider: Strategic Adaptability and Data-Centricity: AI will drive leaders towards a dynamic, adaptable approach, compelling them to be receptive to change and uncertainty. Embracing data will no longer be optional—leaders must rely on analytics to shape decisions, evaluate outcomes, and constantly refine strategies. - Enhanced Focus on Core Leadership Strengths: With AI automating routine, repetitive tasks, leaders can redirect their focus towards strategic planning, innovation, and tasks requiring nuanced human judgment. This will facilitate more concentration on fostering creativity, vision, and foresight in business strategy. - Emergence of New Leadership Roles: AI's proliferation will engender novel roles like AI strategists, ethicists, educators, and engineers. Leaders and managers will not only need proficiency in AI technologies but also an intimate understanding of its interplay with their specific domains or industries. - Navigating Hybrid Teams: AI's integration into the workforce will reshape team dynamics. Leaders will oversee hybrid teams comprising both humans and AI systems. Successfully harnessing the unique strengths of each, ensuring seamless collaboration, and resolving potential conflicts will be key. - Ethical Vigilance: The potency of AI necessitates a rigorous ethical framework. Leaders must guarantee that AI systems comply with privacy standards, ensure algorithmic fairness, and promote transparency in AI-driven decisions.

What specific skills or roles do you think AI can't replace in your industry?

In the logistics sector, the power of AI has certainly been transformative, but certain functions are distinctly human-centric: Human Touch Points: Particularly in areas like customer relationship management, strategic planning, and complex problem-solving, human intuition and emotional intelligence remain paramount. While AI can deliver data-driven insights, the creativity, vision, and judgment these functions demand are intrinsically human attributes vital for fostering innovation and growth. Physical Logistics Operations: The bedrock of logistics is the tangible movement of goods across varied terrains and geographies. Though AI can't replace this fundamental task, it holds considerable potential to bolster its efficiency, safety, and sustainability. For instance: - Inventory Management: AI can optimize stock levels based on predictive analytics, reducing holding costs. - Demand Forecasting: Through AI, predicting product demand becomes more precise, ensuring supply meets demand efficiently. - Route Planning and Delivery Scheduling: AI can devise optimal routes, considering real-time variables like traffic or weather. - Risk Mitigation: AI can predict potential disruptions, allowing companies to adjust their operations pre-emptively. While the logistics industry cherishes its human touchpoints, its future will be a harmonious collaboration, with AI complementing and enhancing human efforts.

Finally, what does the future of work look like with automation and AI, and how can ambitious professionals thrive in this changing landscape?

I'm really excited about what AI can bring to the table, but it's important that people use its power responsibly and ethically. Here's what I think the future holds and how professionals can get the most out of it: Working Together with AI: The future will see humans and AI working side by side. It's like teaming up with a smart tool that helps you do your job better. Always Keep Learning: Things in the AI world change fast. So, if you want to stay ahead, you need to keep learning and updating your skills. Understanding People: Even in an AI-driven world, understanding people's feelings and building relationships will still be of immense importance. Being Open to Change: AI might change how we do things. But instead of resisting it, we should be ready to adapt and see it as a chance to grow. Teamwork: It's not just about working with machines, but also with other people. Good teamwork can bring out the best of both worlds. Thinking About Right and Wrong: As AI gets more powerful, we need to use it in the right way. This means thinking carefully about what's right and fair for everyone. In short, AI will bring a lot of new things to our work. But the key to success will be blending what machines are good at with what humans excel at understanding, creativity, and ethics.

Where should people follow you to find out more about your work?

LinkedIn: Twitter: @dhr00v


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