How to remain relevant in an AI-dominated world


The summer of 1956 saw the inception of Artificial Intelligence through a conference dubbed: ‘Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence’. Led by John McCarthy, an American computer and cognitive scientist and other technophiles, this gathering broke fresh grounds for a whole new era of data science.

With the complexities of what AI embodies, it is simply a system where machines are embedded with cognitive abilities and advance capabilities – just like humans. And although asking Siri or Alexa to play your favourite Louis Armstrong song or dreaming of Waymo – a self-driving car– seems like a pass into an easier life, the World Economic Forum projects that AI will be replacing a staggering 85 million jobs by 2025. Before a quick shiver runs down our spines, there are some ways to up-skill and equip ourselves through a set of skills to remain relevant and in demand when AI totally takes over. Here’s how:

While finding ways to carry out our work efficiently is ideal, we often fail to probe deeper into scenarios, discussions, problems or even envisaged plans. The more one probes into a situation and takes on a question-oriented approach, it creates an avenue for one to identify flaws and missteps, and give room for a deeper understanding leading to better decision-making and crisper ideation.

This act of further probing or in-depth analysis is cognitive and critical thinking, a skill that truly sets one apart. A meticulous look into everyday scenarios at work gives us the opportunity to understand the underlining factors of any situation and how to devise practical solutions for more desirable outcomes.

Socrates, a Greek philosopher who embodied this skill flawlessly through what became known as the Socratic Method – used to teach clinical medicine in the Renaissance era and adapted for diverse areas of societal composition, once described himself as a midwife, whose inquiries assist others in giving birth to their ideas. Although one is not certain to always arrive at precise solutions, it still affords us the chance to have a diversified field of ideas to forge ahead.

In the light of enhancing critical thinking, there is a quality that enables us to confront with patience, insight and imagination the insurmountable problems we encounter with our own selves and with others, and this is Emotional Intelligence (EI). This term face-lifts a role for the consideration of other people’s disposition and simultaneously that of self, which can be simply characterised as awareness.

For example, an emotionally intelligent customer service personnel may understand why a customer may enquire about a product or service discourteously because the person acknowledges that the request may stem out of sheer frustration as a result of a difficulty in the use of the product or service. The skill can be improved by having an open-mind, recognising and understanding our emotions and that of others.

An emotionally intelligent person always looks above self to deliver what will create the most value for others. In the world of work, this skill is what distinguishes good employees who can stay resolute in the face of challenges, have a positive outlook, and look forward to working with others as a united front.

Having a high EI quotient is sure to make one an exceptional person – professionally and personally; and yet another skill that breaks glass ceilings is the skill of execution. Today, many people envision, yet few execute, and more fewer people execute excellently. Once a plan or vision has been established, there are usually a lot of pitfalls that stand in the way of the materialisation of the goal, and this often dismays people from forging ahead.

Yet executing projects paves way for getting things done and attaining objectives. Although one having other skills can help one make a headway, the skill of execution is very pertinent. The famous American Explorer Christopher Columbus once said: “For the execution of the voyage to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps”.

Substantially, although AI is set to threaten the jobs of many, understanding how Artificial Intelligence works is certainly an added advantage. One can work faster and more efficiently within a short period with the use of Artificial Intelligence embedded devices, applications and software.

The skills listed earlier gives anyone a true distinguishing factor, but more so reinventing yourself and being intellectually curious in a world such as ours is very important. Knowledge acquisition in this digital economy is not only simple, but quite crucial in up-skilling in any industry or sector.

Regardless of how one sees it, AI is set to exponentially grow the global economy by 2030, with an astounding US$15.7trillion potential contribution, according to a PwC Global Artificial Intelligence Study. Although Artificial Intelligence is here to stay, optimal results will only emanate through the intersection of great workforce output and automation. Just as Bill Gates brilliantly puts it: “Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency”.

>>>the writer is an avid Development Cooperation Advisor with 7+ years’ experience spanning across Gender, Project Management, Media & Communications and Social Innovation currently offering support and engaging with high-level stakeholders for high-reaching projects, such as Pandemic Preparedness and Disease Surveillance Software and Systems. She can be reached on [email protected]


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