In a tech-first world, our competitive advantage is our humanity

Wake up, people.

All of this noise about machines taking your job isn’t science fiction. It’s happening now, and IBM’s Watson is just the beginning.

Even the White House is raising a few red flags. Tom Hood quoted a 2016 presidential report in a thought-provoking LinkedIn article: “Accelerating artificial intelligence capabilities … will open up new opportunities for individuals, the economy, and society, but they have the potential to disrupt the current livelihoods of millions of Americans.”

Your livelihood is one of them. So is mine.

So what do we do?

Our first step is to stop clinging to the status quo. “If your job can be replaced by a robot,” Sage genius Ed Kless said recently, “your job probably sucks.”

Our next step is to figure out how to stay relevant in the Age of Machines. As usual, Seth Godin has a brilliant answer:

“The future of A.I. is probably a lot like the past: It nibbles. Artificial intelligence does a job we weren’t necessarily crazy about doing anyway, it does it quietly, and well, and then we take it for granted. No one complained when their thermostat took over the job of building a fire, opening the grate, opening a window, rebuilding a fire. And no one complained when the computer found 100 flights faster and better than we ever could.

“But the system doesn’t get tired. It keeps nibbling. Not with benign or mal intent, but with a focus on a clearly defined task.

“This can’t help but lead to unintended consequences, enormous when they happen to you, and mostly small in the universal scheme of things. Technology destroys the perfect and then it enables the impossible.

“The question each of us has to ask is simple (but difficult): What can I become quite good at that’s really difficult for a computer to do one day soon? How can I become so resilient, so human and such a linchpin that shifts in technology won’t be able to catch up?

“It was always important, but now it’s urgent.”

Interesting, isn’t it, how in this age of technological acceleration and artificial intelligence, our competitive advantage might just be our own humanity.


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