Why we need to be even more ‘human’ in an artificial world

For the majority of human existence, we’ve made progress at an unremarkable pace, but in the last 30 years, progress has exploded.

According to Yuval Noah Harari in his book ‘Sapiens’, human progress can be marked by five significant revolutions.

70,000 years ago marked the Cognitive Revolution; we invented language and started to preserve knowledge. 

12,000 years ago, t’was the Agricultural Revolution; we transformed from nomadic tribes to town.

500 years ago, the Scientific Revolution; brought Europe into rapid expansion. 

200 years, the Industrial Revolution; saw the rise of the machines. 

More recently, the last few decades has witnessed the Information Revolution; where Google has all the answers. 

Each time human history jumps forward, we’ve replaced countless jobs by inventing better ways to do them, coinciding with rapid economic growth, making the lives of humans better off as a whole.

Next up, the Technological Revolution; the rise of the bots. 

Amidst this technological revolution, there’s a level of hysteria that the bots will takeover! 

This got me wondering, am I a technology pessimist or optimist?

According the World Bank, global unemployment has fallen from 6.1% in 1991 to 5.8% in 2017, whilst the population increased by 2.2 billion! A surprisingly positive trend, despite these past revolutions.

The reality is, us humans have a fundamental need to contribute, perhaps this next revolution will simply require an evolution of how we do so. 

If we fast forward to the future workplace, let’s take a glimpse of what it might look like:

It is highly likely that:

– simple automation will replace many routine human jobs.  McKinsey Global Institute estimate that by 2030, 30% of all activities will be automated in 2/3rds of job roles.

  there will be changes in leadership approaches to have a greater focus on the brain. 

  majority of the job roles of the future, have not even been thought of yet. Dell Technologies estimate that 85% of the jobs in 2030 have not even been invented yet. 

It is probable that:

  • traditional hierarchy will be replaced by wirearchy (networks). 
  • workforce structures will change dramatically: freelancing, job-juggling and/or working fluid hours will be the norm, trumping traditional 9-5 structures.
  • there will be a growth in the office experience: brain-friendly workplaces and integrated services being provided to enhance wellness and cognitive functions of employees.

It is even possible that:

  • employees will have their brains scanned, DNA tested or even be microchipped.
  • organisations will be leaderless and work will be all self-directed by employees.
  • organisations might be run by AI (avatar) CEO’s or leaders.

What does all this mean? 

The technological revolution will require an evolution of skills, roles and possibilities.

As individuals, as leaders, as organisations, it’s simple: ADAPT OR DIE!

Whilst we can not control the future, we can control how we prepare and respond. We can control how we equip our teams to prepare and respond.

From an employee perspective, the competencies that got you here, won’t necessarily take you into the future. Being able to simply follow instructions and execute tasks will be a thing of the past. Employees will need to bring more to the workplace to remain relevant. 

Whilst it is imperative that all employees develop their digital skills to keep up with the rapid speed of evolving technology, the human skills will be, just as, if not even more essential, in the future workplace. It will require more open, social and collaborative relationships than the workplace of today.

It will be a workplace where Relationships trump Rank.

Individuals who master connect-ability, the skill of understanding the science behind human connection to intentionally build meaningful relationships, will win in the workplace of the future. 

Connect-ability is the skill of co-connecting, utilising artificial and human interactions to build stronger relationships. Understanding how the human brain is wired is imperative to be able to strategically build relationships and influence others in the artificial world. 

The future will not be AI/robots vs humans, it does not need to be an either/or thing.

Technology is the vehicle, but it will always be the humans who are behind the wheel. 

Whether the vehicle is online platforms, digital devices, apps, AI, VR, AR or other technologies not invented yet, it is the humans driving the vehicle who will determine the course it will take and importantly, the impact (positive or negative).

The way I see it, the workplace of the future will be a partnership, not a takeover.

Other essential human skills to develop include:

  • Compassion & Communication skills will be critical to build those trusting relationships with stakeholders and potential collaborators, especially to inspire others to follow you or choose to work with you on a project or a particular mission. 
  • Creativity: in an open source world, knowledge is no longer ‘power’. It will be the individuals who ‘think creativity’, and are constantly looking for more efficient & effective ways to achieve results will add the real value in an artificial world.  
  • Critical thinking to form judgements based not only on endless information and data but utilising their intuition. Neuroscience will continue to shed some light on this untapped human intelligence.
  • Curiosity: the workplace of tomorrow is going to require us all to adopt a curious mindset, one in which we are open to consistently learning and perhaps more importantly “unlearning”. Unlearning will be the skill of letting go of past ways of doing things and being prepared to work to learn, not learn to work.

Luckily for us, the brain’s plasticity means we all have the ability to change our brain and adopt new ways of doing things. This is crucial if we want to remain relevant in the workplace of tomorrow.

Beware of the technology pessimists! 

Instead, look for the possibilities and opportunities so you can start preparing yourself and your team for this next exciting revolution. WARNING: this will likely require an ‘upgrade’ (in thinking and doing) but just like a software update, the result; a newer, up-to-date version of you, will be worth the effort.

To download a copy of my “People and Workplace Trends Chart” go to: www.blytherowe.com

Blythe Rowe

Blythe Rowe, the founder & director of Human Incite, is widely recognised for her passion, energy & ability to shake things up. She spent many years on the other side of the fence in the corporate world in senior HR roles. In 2012, she wrote her first book 'Bullies, Blamers & Bludgers'. Since then she has travelled around the world, sharing her insights, inspiring action, revving-up productivity & performance within organisations. Blythe is passionate about connecting & creating meaningful relationships both personally & professionally.

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