When I started helping people understand AI, I had a clear vision in mind. This week I had a phone call that confirmed that vision is closer than ever to become reality.
Let me talk about my vision first.
When I lived In Silicon Valley, I met people that used AI to solve problems that couldn’t be solve in any other way. Machine translation, personalised medicine, autonomous cars…AI seemed a tool too powerful to ignore.
Outside of that bubble, people like me were battling with the same problems, but with inadequate, old tools. I felt like I was trying to cut down a tree with a knife, while others had chainsaws and harvesters.
It was clear to me that the difference was not in access to technology. Technology was democratic then, and it’s even more democratic now. The difference was in awareness, and knowledge of these tools.
Using my tree-cutting metaphor, people don’t cut trees with knives because they have no chainsaw. They don’t know that chainsaws exist.
I thought that every industry and every company needed new professionals with a vision on how AI could help achieve their goals. Someone who understands both the unique challenges of its field, and the AI tools to solve them.
Now, let’s get to my phone call.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw on LinkedIn that a Data Scientist I met in Copenaghen had changed position. He went from Senior Data Scientist at a pharma company, to AI evangelist at another company.
AI evangelist? What the hell is that?
In an early draft of Zero to AI, we used that expression to refer to our reader. In our eyes, the reader was an excited professional that could bring AI’s wonders into her company. We then ditched that term, but seeing it on a LinkedIn profile felt…odd. And too interesting not to explore.
I reached out, and scheduled a 30min call to know how he was preaching AI in his new company.
We ended up talking for 1.5hrs.
Turns out, my friend was doing exactly what I was preaching since years.
His job was to talk to people in the company, hear their challenges and see how they were dealing with them.
If he spot someone cutting a tree with a knife, building a table with tape or chopping onions with a spoon, he’d bring in the Data Science team. They’d come with their AI chainsaws, drills and chef knives, and help solve problems with modern tools.
It’s all coming together, and it just makes so much sense.
Organisations need someone that can build a bridge between business needs and AI capabilities. They know their tools are outdated, and amazing potential awaits for them.
This need is starting to translate into clear job roles and job descriptions. I don’t know yet what titles will stick, and what will be on these people’s business cards. AI evangelist, AI translator, AI product manager, whatever. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that an amazing, fulfilling career awaits whoever starts preparing for these roles. And if you want to pursue that path, this is your time to prepare.
p.s.: Don’t cut trees. That’s not cool.