Everyday I see another headline “This Is How AI Will Take Your Job!” which do a good job at giving me a chuckle… but no real feeling of despair or concern. I work in the AI field, work with a lot of technology, and it’s my opinion (a fairly educated one) that AI is not going to replace you at your job. However, I do believe that the people who learn to use AI will take your job.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
Look back at history, every productivity enhancer has three groups of people. The first are the early adopters who turn that piece of technology into a competitive advantage. They figure out how the new technology can help them do more than others with the same or less time/effort/money input. Doing so creates tremendous value as these people have excess capacity to take on new projects and learn new skills. In turn, these people become highly desirable to companies who are constantly seeking to make their dollar go farther. Spending a little extra on a high level producer is worth it in the end.
Then, there are the middle adopters – the people who initially didn’t know about the technology benefits or thought it too risky to join the early adopters, but have since changed their stance. As these people begin to adopt the new technology, they too enhance their value. But, as more people gain these skills, the competitive advantage becomes less and less prominent for all, creating more of a status quo. This is where we start to see diminishing returns and a regression to a new mean.
With this growing base of higher skilled workers becoming the new baseline for the market, the final group – the laggards – often find themselves faced with a choice. Either up-skill themselves just to stay afloat, or lose the job to someone who has the baseline skill in the market.
This is what is happening with AI. Right now, there are just a few early adopters who are truly leveraging the technology to their advantage. They are getting massive results, productivity boosts of five to fifteen times that of their peers. If you’ve fallen behind on other technologies, now is the time to reverse that trend and get back to the forefront. Or, if you’re new to the business world, maybe it’s time to leverage the technology to make your mark early.
I hear the comments already “But, AI is just in the beginning too! They’ve already made it do so many things!” – that is also true. However, if we think about what makes us intrinsically human, that is something that AI cannot replicate. People will always be needed to interact with other people. How can empathy, courage, skepticism, or the hundreds of other feelings or emotions be replicated when we struggle to define them?
AI is an extremely powerful tool that will continue to evolve. And I truly believe that evolution will beckon in an age of productivity that we have never seen before. While I don’t think AI will ever replicate what makes us innately human, it can do tasks at speeds we’ll never come close to. So why not combine the best of both worlds and usher in a productive and profitable future.
P.S. Still not convinced? I recommend reading the Harvard Business Review article entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter” by Carr. Not only is it an incredible read, it also provides a perspective on technological advancement that is often overlooked.