Connecticut jobs: State officials look to protect human job security as artificial intelligence expands

HARTFORD, Connecticut — With many jobs expected to eventually rely on generative AI, states are trying to help workers bolster their tech skills before they become obsolete and are overtaken by machines that are getting ever smarter.

Connecticut is working to create what advocates believe will be the nation’s first Citizens Artificial Intelligence Academy, a free online repository of curated classes that users can take to learn basic skills or earn a certificate needed for employment.

“This is a rapidly evolving area,” said Democratic state Sen. James Maroney. “So we all need to learn what the best sources are to keep up to date. How can we update our skills? Who can be reliable sources?”

Determining what skills are needed in an AI world can be a challenge for state lawmakers given the fast-paced nature of the technology and differing opinions on what the best approach is.

Gregory LaBlanc, a professor of finance, strategy and law at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley Law School in California, says workers should be taught how to use and manage generative AI rather than how the technology works. partly because computers will soon be better able to perform certain tasks previously performed by humans.

“What we need is to lean on things that complement AI instead of learning to be bad imitators of AI,” he said. “We need to find out what AI is not good at and then teach those things. And those things are generally things like creativity, empathy, and high-level problem solving.”

He said that historically people have not needed to understand technological advances to be successful.

“When electricity came along, we didn’t tell everyone they had to become electrical engineers,” LeBlanc said.

This year, at least four states (Connecticut, California, Mississippi and Maryland) proposed laws that attempted to somehow address AI in classrooms. They ranged from the planned Connecticut AI Academy, which was originally included in a wide-ranging AI regulation bill that failed but the concept is still being developed by state education officials, to proposed working groups examining how to can safely incorporate AI into public schools. One such bill died in the Mississippi legislature, while the others remain in flux.

A bill in California would require a state task force to consider incorporating AI literacy skills into math, science, history and social studies curricula.

“AI has the potential to positively impact the way we live, but only if we know how to use it and do so responsibly,” said the bill’s author, Assemblyman Marc Berman, in a statement. “Regardless of their future profession, we must ensure that all students understand the basic principles and applications of AI, have the skills to recognize when AI is being employed, and are aware of AI’s implications, limitations, and ethical considerations.”

The bill is supported by the California Chamber of Commerce. CalChamber policy advocate Ronak Daylami said in a statement that incorporating information into existing school curricula “will dispel the stigma and mystique of technology, not only by helping students become more users and consumers demanding and intentional AI demands, but also better positioning future generations of workers. to succeed in an AI-driven workforce and hopefully inspire the next generation of computer scientists.”

While Connecticut’s planned AI Academy is expected to offer certificates to people who complete certain skills programs that might be necessary for their careers, Maroney said the academy will also cover the basics, from digital literacy to how to ask a chatbot questions.

He said it’s important for people to have the skills to understand, evaluate and interact effectively with AI technologies, whether it’s a chatbot or machines that learn to identify problems and make decisions that mimic human decision-making.

“Most jobs are going to require some form of literacy,” Maroney said. “I think if you don’t learn how to use it, you’re going to be at a disadvantage.”

A September 2023 study published by job search firm Indeed found that all U.S. jobs listed on the platform had skills that could be performed or improved by generative AI. Nearly 20% of jobs were considered “highly exposed,” meaning the technology is considered good or excellent in 80% or more of the skills mentioned in Indeed job postings.

Nearly 46% of jobs on the platform were “moderately exposed,” meaning GenAI can perform between 50% and 80% of the skills.

Maroney said he worries about how that skills gap, coupled with a lack of access to high-speed Internet, computers and smartphones in some underserved communities, will exacerbate the problem of inequity.

A report released in February by McKinsey and Company, a global management consulting firm, projected that generative AI could increase household wealth in the United States by nearly $500 billion by 2045, but would also increase the wealth gap between black and white households by $43 billion annually.

Advocates have been working for years to narrow the country’s digital skills gap, often focusing on the basics of computer literacy and improving access to the Internet and reliable devices, especially for people living in urban and rural areas. The advent of AI poses additional challenges to that task, said Marvin Venay, director of external affairs and advocacy for the Massachusetts-based organization Bring Tech Home.

“For this to really take off publicly, you need to include education… in a way that allows people to remove their barriers,” he said of AI. “And you have to be able to explain to the average person why it is not only a useful tool, but why it will be something they can rely on.”

Tesha Tramontano-Kelly, executive director of the Connecticut-based group CfAL for Digital Inclusion, said she worries that lawmakers are “putting the cart before the horse” when it comes to talking about AI training. Ninety percent of the youth and adults who use the free digital literacy classes her organization offers don’t have a computer at home.

While Connecticut is considered technologically advanced compared to many other states and nearly all households can get Internet service, a recent state digital equity study found that only about three-quarters subscribe to broadband. A survey conducted as part of the study determined that 47% of respondents consider it somewhat or very difficult to pay for Internet service.

Of residents who reported household income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level, 32% do not own a computer and 13% do not own any device with Internet access.

Tramontano-Kelly said ensuring the internet is accessible and technology equipment is affordable are important first steps.

“Educating people about AI is very important. I totally agree with that,” he said. “But the conversation should also address everything related to AI.”

READ ALSO | Celebrity chef evicted from New York apartment, landlord says he hasn’t paid rent for years

NJ Burkett tells the story from Brooklyn.


* More news from Connecticut

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app to receive breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Do you have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If you attach a video or photo, the terms of use apply.

Copyright © 2024 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Leave a Comment