Top 5 Societal Competences for an Artificial Intelligence Professional: The HCAIM Industry Correspondents Speak Up


Although not a new discipline by any means, Artificial Intelligence has been on a path of sustainable rediscovery within the past decade, and especially within the context of AI trustworthiness, lawfulness, and technical robustness. This drive towards new requirements for a human-centered approach to artificial intelligence development, integration, and usage, has led to a shift in the societal competences, required for professionals in the field.

While professionals and students in the field are worried about how this will impact the already existing mismatch between supply and demand of talent in the field of AI, Grand View Research states that the global artificial intelligence market size was valued at USD 62.35 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.2% from 2021 to 2028.

AI is a broad, multi-disciplinary study, encompassing engineering, mathematics, computer science, and now – societal awareness.

This is why, among the first outputs of HCAIM, a project aimed at developing a combined AI master’s program, addressing the market and industry needs with regards to human-centered artificial intelligence, is a study of the most wanted societal competences for a working professional in the field of artificial intelligence.

As part of the Needs and Market Analysis, we have interviewed 49 industry and research representatives across Europe, coming from enterprises of all sizes and application domains in AI, with year-long experience in the field. So, if you’re evaluating career options in the field, or looking at ways to complement your competences in the sector, find out more about the top 5 societal competences, according to the HCAIM industry corespondents.

1. The Ability to Innovate

Among the highest-rated abilities in terms of societal competences, has been the ability to innovate. According to the e-Competence Framework, this ability is rooted in the capacity to devise creative solutions for the provision of new concepts, ideas, products, or services. Innovative professionals can deploy novel and open thinking to envision exploitation of technological advances to address business and societal needs or research direction. So, if you are looking for ways to cultivate your ability to innovate and think outside the box, we recommend that you follow closely existing trends and innovations in the field, and exercise your creativity, even on paper, by mixing technologies and approaches to create new products, or find innovative ways to use them, to address topics of social importance.

2. Abide by ethical code of conduct

An ever more increasing skill against the backdrop of the need for human-centered technology development is the ability to abide by ethical codes of conduct. This is defined as the ability to conform and follow the ethical code of conduct promoted by companies and businesses at large. Professionals that abide by the ethical code of conduct make sure that operations, activities, algorithms, and applications developed by them, comply with the code of conduct and ethical operations of the supply chain throughout.

Especially for professionals in the field of artificial intelligence, we recommend studying and following the ethics guidelines, set in place by the EU Expert Group on AI. More information can be found here.

3. Needs identification

The ability to identify needs, according to the e-Competence Framework is closely related to the ability to actively listen to internal and external customers, while being familiar with existing trends, challenges, and opportunities in the field, to be able to better articulate and clarify their needs.

This entails, as imaginable, quite a plethora of skills, including customer relationship management, trend monitoring, and the ability to analyze business requirements. Furthermore, to identify needs means to think creatively and to be able to innovate based on a predefined set of requirements. Proposing different solutions, performing contextual analysis in support of user-centered system design, and the ability to advise the customer or your management on appropriate solution choices are paramount for the development of the ability to identify needs.

Last but not least, professionals possessing the ability to identify needs are expected to act as an advocate engaging in the implementation or configuration process of the chosen solution, as well as to abide by the ethical code of conduct while doing so.

4. Architecture Design

The skill to design architectures closely relates to the ability to specify, refine, update and make available a formal approach to implement solutions, necessary to develop and operate a given architecture. Especially in the context of agile practices around the industry, architecture design becomes increasingly a societal ability, due to its inherent requirement to recognize and adapt to changing requirements and the architectural components involved.

An AI professional needs to be able in the architecture design, to take into account ethics, interoperability, scalability, usability, and security while maintaining alignment between business evolution and technology developments.

5. Technology trend monitoring

Last, but definitely not least is the ability and habit for technology trend monitoring. A foundational skill for all of the above-mentioned competences, technology trend monitoring is paramount for everyone, working in the field of AI, among others. AI professionals must be able to investigate the latest technological developments, not only in the field of AI but more broadly to ICT, cybersecurity, and ethics, to establish an understanding of evolving technologies.

Being part of the development of ethical, trustworthy, and technically robust AI solutions, requires professionals to be able to devise innovative solutions for the integration of new technology into existing products, applications, or services or for the creation of new solutions.

* Grand View Research. Artificial Intelligence Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Solution, By Technology (Deep Learning, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Machine Vision), By End Use, By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2028. June 2021. Available online at: Link

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