The cult classic sci-fi film Blade Runner featured flying cars, powerful artificial intelligence and a world unlike any that had ever been seen. But movies like this rarely if ever depict the nitty-gritty of the technological advancements we can expect to witness in the future. For instance, what will a factory floor, a call center or a real-estate office look like in the year 2100?
Transformative technologies like flying cars may sound cool, but the changes to the working world are likely going to be more momentous. So what can we expect from the future of work? And more importantly, how can humans prepare for a world dominated by smart technology and robotic intelligence?
Well, according to “Humility is the New Smart” by Edward Hess, as AI takes off, humans will need to secure a professional niche for themselves or risk falling into obsolescence. The key to doing so is humility – cultivating interpersonal skills and collaboration and skills and collaboration and leveraging the creativity that sets us apart from machines.
The second millennium may be young, but we’re quickly approaching one of its defining eras: the Smart Machine Age, or SMA. This term describes a time when machines will become increasingly capable of performing complex tasks and nonroutine work – jobs that once required human labor.
As the SMA dawns, technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and genetic engineering will quickly come to dominate the professional and personal lives of humans. As they continue to become more sophisticated, machines will take on more manual and cognitive tasks, both in and outside the workplace.
What does this mean for humans?
Well, if you’re a lawyer, a journalist, a teacher or an accountant, you can’t be too certain that your job is secure. It could be taken over by a robot in the future. In fact, a 2013 study done by researchers at Oxford University found an extreme likelihood that as many as 47 percent of US jobs will be replaced by technology within the next two decades.
So human success in the SMA depends on a whole new approach; we must be NewSmart. After all, we can’t compete with machines in terms of processing and retaining huge amounts of information. Our options are either to complement the work of machines or do the work they can’t, which includes critical thinking, emotional engagement and creative practices.
However, in a society that’s hyperfocused on competition, aggression and individual success, we’re often too self-involved and fixed in our beliefs to be adept at such skills. This impedes progress. We will only excel when we learn to collaborate, an ability that enables greater critical thinking, emotional engagement and creativity.
But our general unwillingness to work together doesn’t mean humanity is doomed. Indeed, there’s a way to acquire the skills that will help you transcend your current limitations. So what skills are key to success in the Smart Machine Age?
Well, the first is known as quieting ego. This refers to the ability to trim back your emotional defensiveness, directing empathy toward others by letting your guard down and becoming more objective, open-minded and open-hearted.
For instance, when you get unflattering feedback from a friend or colleague, you should welcome the criticism. Avoid the very human impulse to tell yourself that he’s just wrong. In addition to quieting your ego, you should also focus on managing self. This means fostering a healthy and controlled approach to your thoughts and feelings. Without this skill, you’ll grow preoccupied with your fears and insecurities, which will prevent you from connecting with others. And this may deprive you of the power of critical and creative thinking that can be derived from human collaboration.
For example, many people fear that they won’t be accepted for who they are. This anxiety can be so pronounced that it actually prevents them from interacting with others at all.
The third skill you need is reflective listening, which is a way to free your thoughts and perceptions of the world, and transcend your cognitive and emotional biases. Reflective listening is about taking the time to truly understand other people and their ideas. Practicing this skill will help you open your mind and challenge your preconceived notions of the world. With a more open mind, you’ll be better at forging productive, collaborative relationships.
And finally, to succeed in the SMA, you need to master otherness. This skill simply refers to the ability to establish strong connections with other people. In the SMA, a focus on creative thinking and emotional connection is of the utmost importance – so it’s clear why mastering otherness is necessary. Before you collaborate with others, you first need to connect with them.
Get smart or get outdated.
Check out my related post: How can you stay ahead of AI?