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AI is most likely not going to replace you

Stable diffusion generated art of Human versus machines in style of picasso

The year is 2023; There’s a common narrative peddled in today’s society painting a grim picture of the future, where artificial intelligence (AI) and automation take over the workforce, leaving humans unemployed and obsolete. While AI is certainly transforming the way we work, it is not so much replacing us as it is augmenting our abilities, making us better, more efficient, and opening new realms of possibilities.

Over the weekend, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who’s an accomplished film maker, and while we discussed about how innovative AI was and I showed him the current capabilities and applications of AI in today’s landscape, I could not help but notice a feeling of fear and concern as we progressed.

He argued that these new tools are really good, and someone who knew nothing could literally do something that usually took them weeks if not months to execute; and this was challenging.

The reality is that we humans are knowing beings, we live in a society where knowledge is power and there is always a reward for knowing something so well; at a certain point it hurts to see what you spent years toiling to assimilate become soooo easily accessible that the years spent in film school, coding bootcamps and the likes becomes almost useless. What then should be my motivation to put in the acclaimed 10,000 hours into this craft, when someone who barely spent 1 hour with a super intelligent app can achieve an almost look alike result with mine?

There is Bad news & Goodnews

Artificial intelligence, even in its most advanced form, lacks the emotional intelligence, creativity, and adaptability inherent in humans. AI’s real strength lies in its ability to process large amounts of data quickly and accurately, perform repetitive tasks tirelessly, and learn from patterns. Even the famous ChatGPT is an advanced implementation of Combinations & Probability for my statistics nerds.

Humans excel in areas requiring empathy, abstract thinking, and strategic decision-making. We are able to understand context, appreciate nuances, make judgments, and build relationships in ways AI cannot replicate.

Although a McKinsey report from 2017 estimates that up to 800 million jobs could be displaced by automation by 2030, and this recent Forbes article does not lighten the mood. The report also found that up to 950 million new jobs could be created by the same time.

Food for thought: Can AI create new jobs as fast as it can replace existing jobs? 

As I and my friend were deep in the valley of the realities of AI in the workforce and what that means for the job landscape of today, It dawned on us, that those who will stand out are the experts.

These experts are the skilled artisans, the talented maestros of their crafts, individuals who had honed their skills to perfection; like the gifted Beyonce, whose magical voice could weave dreams into sound clouds. These experts were masters of their domains, constantly learning and evolving, always a step ahead, ready to adapt, innovate, and drive change. They had an in-depth understanding of their field, but they also had a wide-angled view of the landscape. They could anticipate changes, spot patterns, and connect the dots. They would learn from the past, adapt in the present, and prepare for the future, much like an eagle adjusting its flight to the shifting winds.

Indeed, anyone can instruct an AI to perform basic tasks with a simple command. But the nuances and subtleties of craftsmanship? The delicate, individualistic touches of the creative mind? These are the elements that set us apart.

Indeed, everyone can direct an AI to edit their photograph. Yet not everyone can specify the subtle tonal adjustments, the delicate interplay of shadows and highlights, or the masterful use of color theory to evoke a specific mood. Only the discerning eye of a seasoned photographer or visual artist can make such refined judgments.

While everyone can order an AI to create an illustration. But not everyone can guide it to deploy complex mathematical models like the bezier curve to craft intricate lines across the canvas, to create a three-dimensional sense of space in a two-dimensional frame. Only a skilled illustrator with a deep understanding of form and perspective can give such precise directions.

While everyone can task an AI with writing code, not everyone can articulate the intricate structure of a class, the specific methods to be used, the correct values for constructors, and the expected inputs and outputs. It takes a seasoned programmer with a robust understanding of software architecture to successfully navigate such complexities.

While anyone can ask an AI to design a course curriculum or a learning thesis. But not everyone can instruct it on the exact implementation of pedagogical models like Bloom’s taxonomy or Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory. It takes an experienced educator who comprehends the intricate connections between learning objectives, instructional methods, and assessment techniques to create a truly effective curriculum.

This list could go on and on.

These experts will 10-20 years from now, will remind this current generation of experts of how in their days, you didn’t have all these tools and you have to know these things by heart. These experts in a operation room can override an automated mechanism to take over a heart surgery and execute it by heart (“pun intended”) even when an AI fails. These experts will stay in high demand. They understand the underlying principles behind every instruction executed in natural language.

The Future is Human plus Machine

To thrive in this evolving world , one would need to become experts in their fields, combining their unique human skills with the advantages that AI provides. It was a journey of lifelong learning, innovation, and collaboration. An adventure for the future.

As the futurist Gerd Leonhard puts it

Embrace technology but don’t become it.” The future is not AI alone; it’s human and AI, working together in symphony.

Gerd Leonhard

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