Let me ask you something very interesting! Let’s assume there is a finance function in an organization where 10 people are working. Now with the advancement in AI and robotics or you can say AI revolution 2023, the organization’s management is wondering that the routine and mundane tasks can be performed by AI tools and consequently they don’t need 10 people in the finance function. The management believes that now only 4 people are sufficient in the finance function. However, the management is not sure which 4 people to retain and which 6 people to let go. What do you think how the management will decide about this? Who to retain and who to let go? Just think! No hurry, take your time. Let me grab my mug of coffee in the meantime.
Okay so in my view; it’s actually a no-brainer for the management. The management will definitely retain those 4 people who are good at collaborating with other people, supportive, interactive, outgoing, and have the ability to maintain pleasant relations with colleagues & people in other departments. But, is it necessary that these 4 people will have all these skills and abilities? Probably yes but, a significant elevation in these skills and abilities might be required to effectively perform the work which the management is envisaging and communicating with senior level people like directors & CEO. This thought-provoking preamble brings me to my today’s exciting topic i.e. top 8 skills you need to survive and thrive in the era of AI.
So, what skills you possess at the moment? Are you proficient in coding and can do coding in Java, Python, C++? Are you a talented UI, UX designer? Are you a skilful application designer? Are you an expert in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? What if I say that these are the things that can be done by AI (in times to come) in an even more advanced, efficient, and better fashion? So, how’re you gonna survive and thrive in the next, let’s say, 5-10 years? Beyond any doubt there is a robust history of AI and presently the AI is accelerating at an unprecedented speed and no one really knows what the future of work will exactly look like but, if you’re curious at learning & growing, open-minded, adaptable, excited about the future of work, and aspiring to become a resilient person with unbeatable skills then this blog is for you. And wow! You don’t need to do anything. Just read this blog till the end and I’ll help in becoming that resilient person who can survive, thrive and excel in the era of AI revolution.
Transition From Technical Skills To Soft Skills
Whether you like it or not, the advancement in AI is now challenging traditional white-collar jobs. Until now, the technical skills, data literacy, and expertise are essential but, eventually soft skills will become more imperative for success in the corporate environment as the AI will take over not only the mundane tasks but, even beyond that as well. You must have witnessed the recent incredible capabilities of generative AI such as the generation of text, art, videos, codes, music, web development, and much more. These all capabilities of generative AI raise questions about the destiny of people doing these tasks. The times have changed and that’s the truth nobody can negate. So, why not prepare for a future which is already at a point of no return? To prepare for the future with AI, you need to concentrate on the following areas:
- Ponder what real value you can add at your workplace?
- What you can do which AI can’t?
- Equip yourself to operate effectively in digital environment; and
- Amplify your ability to adapt in order to continuously accustom to new ways of working and emerging occupations.
Now before talking about the top 8 skills you need to survive and thrive in the era of AI, I want to just quickly do an exciting strengths and weaknesses analysis of AI vs. Human Brain
1). Processing speed is insanely high.
2). Availability of unlimited memory.
3). Such a high level of accuracy that human brain can’t beat it.
4). AI is robust. It doesn’t get tired, fatigued, need recess, and can operate 24/7/365.
5). AI powered computers are upgradeable with advancement in technology.
1). Right now the AI is limited with creativity and intuition. Nonetheless the way AI is progressing; in future AI might attain creativity and intuition. Experts believe that AI has the potential to even surpass human intelligence.
2). AI lack emotions and empathy.
3). The AI has low adaptability at the moment and it can’t change from one situation to another. Mostly it can operate the way it is programmed. However, this might change in the long run.
4). AI powered machines have dependency on energy/electricity.
1). AI is nowhere close to human creativity, imagination, and intuition (at least right now).
2). AI has no comparison with human brain when it comes to emotional intelligence.
3). Human brain is capable of critical thinking.
4). Human brain has the capacity to adapt as per the changing circumstances.
1). Obviously humans have low processing speed as compared to AI powered machines and we can’t outpace AI machines when it comes to processing.
2). Humans have limitations with memory.
3). Humans have vulnerabilities. We get sick, tired, fatigued, and experience ups & downs in life.
4). Humans have a finite life span. As humans age their capabilities and health deteriorates
So, based on the above analysis what do you think who is the boss? Well, still we the humans are the boss but it’s high time that we enter into a perfect partnership with AI and let the machines do mundane work for us, while we work on our strengths and skills. This way we’ll take care of AI’s weaknesses and AI will take care of our weaknesses.
1. Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills are essentially the skills that help people in communicating and building relationships with other people. Interpersonal skills are demonstrated both in verbal and nonverbal communications. Strong interpersonal skills are always an asset in any corporate environment and workplace. The benefits of interpersonal skills are wide-reaching including the ability to work well with others and succeed in navigating complexity, change, and everyday matters. With the AI revolution, interpersonal skills are even more crucial and will remain relevant because the AI powered computers don’t possess any interpersonal capabilities. Moreover, it’s a famous catchphrase that people hire/need people so having that ability/skill to form a human connection where people enjoy talking to you, see you as really collaborative, and want you to be on their team will definitely set you apart.
2. Continuous Learning
Do machines learn? What the history of AI tells you? Yes, machines learn but, only when humans tell them or you can say program them to learn. On the contrary, humans have a natural tendency to continuously learn. So, why not nurture and foster your inherent fierce appetite for new information and new ways of doing things? Igniting, nurturing, and fostering your energy, passion, and appetite to continuously learn & upgrade yourself is one key skill to make sure that you won’t be left in the dust by AI. So, why not begin by continuously learning the AI tools? This will help you in augmenting your skill sets and assigning many mundane tasks to AI, while you can focus on bigger and more productive work. For example, there is an AI tool called “tryellie.com”. This is an AI email assistant and you can use it by providing it with some email data. Based on your input data, this tool will craft intelligent, accurate, and mind-blowing reply for you.
Likewise, there is an AI tool called “Lindy”. This AI tool is like a personal assistant and can help you with various tasks. The beauty of this tool is that the more you use it, the more it gets to know your habits and requirements. So, you can use it for tasks such as writing emails, scheduling appointments, and generating reports. On the basis of inputs (in the form of text or email or voice commands) provided by you, the Lindy creates personalized responses. With the use of Lindy, you can focus on more important & productive tasks and stand out at your workplace.
3. Digital Literacy
Digital literacy such as cybersecurity, programming languages, etc. is more important than ever. But, don’t worry you don’t need to become an expert or engineer or coding champion. Just knowing the basics that how to interact effectively with AI powered computers and experts is essential. According to the World Economic Forum (WEC), by 2030 majority of jobs will require digital literacy and those who lack digital literacy will be at a severe disadvantage when competing for jobs and business opportunities in the market. But, what exactly is digital literacy? It can be many things right? For example, cybersecurity is an area which is in demand currently and is expected to remain in high demand & a secure profession in future. Even with all the advancements and evolution in AI, humans will still be required as cybersecurity experts to figure out what should we prevent and what we shouldn’t prevent? How to prevent data and machines from malicious attacks? Since, the people possessing cybersecurity skills are already in demand therefore you can make your way into it as well by taking some time out and doing some online courses/certifications etc. You don’t necessarily need to join a university or college to obtain a formal degree in cybersecurity.
Now a daunting challenge here is that you want to get digital literacy but, as the technology continues to evolve at a pretty fast pace, you need to grow digital literacy at a much faster pace to catch up with the new developments. Don’t worry; let me tell you a smart way of dealing with this daunting challenge. You can start by incorporating some AI tools in your mundane work. This will help you in keeping up with the new developments in AI and will make you more productive & agile at learning digital skills. A consistent and steady approach towards using this technique will help you in catching up with new developments in AI.
AI powered computers can do unimaginable things but, they can’t compete with humans when it comes to creativity and imagination. Even with all the advancements in AI coming our way, the workplaces of the future will require creative people coming up with new ways of thinking and inventing new things. So, human creativity would be an important asset. Many people say that creativity is something which is inherent and it can’t be taught however, there are even methodologies which are used to teach creativity. One such methodology is called “Stanford Design Thinking”. It is a methodology designed by Stanford University to teach people how to be creative and do inventions. This methodology follows five steps which are empathize, define from where to start, ideation (brainstorming), prototype, and test.
In previous paragraphs of this blog, I mentioned the term “Generative AI”. You must have heard or read this term but, why the word “Generative” is being used before AI these days? The new breed of AI tools are called “Generative” because they’re capable of generating new stuff. For example tools like ChatGPT and Dall-E are capable of stitching together elements that already exist in order to come up with something that seems new. In a matter of just months, these tools have gone from niche curiosities for nerds to household names. But, the human creativity that’s the combination of invention, expression, experience, and personality is still an exclusively human asset. Human creativity brings ideas to life and motivates us to consider the possibilities for a better world. So even with advancements in AI and generative AI, human creativity will continue to be cherished for a long time to come.
5. Critical Thinking
Another very human skill i.e. critical thinking will be a great asset with the changing nature of the workplace due to AI. People possessing critical thinking skills are able to come up with innovative ideas, solve complex problems, and weigh up the pros & cons of various solutions by using logic & reasoning rather than relying on gut feelings or emotions. The pace at which AI is progressing, it might reach at a level where it can possess critical thinking but, right now AI lacks critical thinking abilities. Critical thinking is one of a very precious human skills that kindles curiosity, refine research skills, make you a problem solver, and enable you to take better decisions. These all capabilities are almost critical at every workplace and highly desirable traits to become future leader.
6. Emotional Intelligence
Now let’s talk how emotional intelligence can help you survive and thrive in the era of AI? The good news is that organizations still need flesh and blood leaders and the leaders are the ones who can lead by tapping into their unique human capabilities and like other unique human capabilities which we’re discussing in this blog, emotional intelligence is one of them. Since, AI doesn’t possess emotional intelligence (at least until now) therefore the people with emotional intelligence will be in greater demand in the workplace therefore cultivating emotional intelligence is one of the most important things. But, what exactly emotional intelligence is? Emotional intelligence is the capability to attain and apply knowledge and skills in two key areas:
- Intrapersonal relating which is understanding yourself and what you feel & want; and
- Interpersonal relating which is sensing others’ intentions and desires.
But, how exactly emotional intelligence is going to help you in ensuring that you have a secure place at your work in the years to come? The way AI has demonstrated its ability to draw like a human and talk like a human, the question is why can’t AI construe emotions like a human? Well, the AI tools are trained on mammoth data sets in relatively narrowly defined areas. For example, if AI scrutinizes million sentences, it can produce a sentence of its own easily. However, human emotions are very personal and trickier aspect of human personality. Imagine an AI tool that has never fallen in love has no point of reference for the exhilaration of a relationship beginning or the pain of it ending.
Another critical aspect of demonstrating emotional intelligence is paying attention/actively listening. Most of us tend to pay fractional attention to others during conversations because our minds usually run to anticipate their next point/move or to react. But, you can miss a lot when you’re not paying attention to that conversation. When you’re fully present, people notice it and they feel respected & motivated. This is like bringing emotional intelligence to work and until now that’s something only human beings can do.
7. Leadership Skills
The workplaces of the future will look pretty different from today’s hierarchical structures. Project-based teams, remote working, and fluid hierarchical structures will become more common. But, that won’t lessen the significance and vital role of strong leadership. So leadership traits such as having an inspirational persona and helping & motivating others around you to become the best versions of themselves will remain critical and an in demand skill.
8. Adaptability And Ready To Embrace Change
The pace of AI advancements and consequent changes happening right now are astonishing. It means you need to be on your toes and foster your ability to embrace and celebrate change. You need to be flexible and adaptable to shifting workplaces, expectations, and changing skill. The traditional narrow way of perceiving yourself as someone who belongs to a specific profession or who can do some specific work only because you have obtained degree in that particular field e.g. medical, engineering, accountancy etc. needs to be shrugged off. This means you need to be open-minded, flexible, adaptable to change & new ideas, and see the change as an opportunity to grow, progress, and not as a curse or liability.
AI is no longer something that you can expect to happen in the future. It’s already firmly embedded into the world of today and empowering the tools and services on which you rely on a daily basis. We benefit from it when we search for information on Google, watch movies/shows on Netflix, shop on Amazon, manage/regulate traffic in metropolises or hail a ride with some ride hailing service. Recently, AI got a little more in our faces when apps like ChatGPT burst onto the scene. Generative AI has made it possible for almost anyone to put AI to work. How AI will affect jobs, businesses, and professions is still hazy and ambiguous. But, one thing which is generally agreed is that those who can leverage and embrace the power of AI to assist them with their tasks and responsibilities will be ideally placed to survive and thrive in the face of onrushing wave of disruption. This requires an understanding of the potential of AI and how it relates to your profession & work, and a concerted effort to develop the skill sets that ensure you’re ready to take advantage of the opportunities to be found in the digital world of work. Surely, the people and businesses who’ll survive, thrive, and grow in future will be the ones who are open-minded and ready to embrace the AI. I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it educational, helpful, and inspirational. Let me know your thoughts about AI, history of AI, and what the future of work looks like to you in the era of AI revolution.