Do Android Employees Dream of Paid Time Off? Ai, the future of work, and the end of your career (as you know it)

The Jinxed Client
The Jinxed Client

It’s not every day a robot takes over some high-end, knowledge and nuance-intensive job…but that day is almost here.  And as the stats keep rolling in, even the most conservative prognosticators are painting a mildly dystopian workplace portrait.

The biggest sign of the coming apocalypse?  Apparently the sex-bot industry is already booming.

But in all seriousness, the white-collar jobs, Peter Drucker’s “knowledge workers” and the so called, “protected careers” like attorneys, doctors, and financial advisors are right in the line of obsolescence in the advent of the Ai Age.  The big difference between previous innovations that brought the fear-mongers out on street corners with “The End is Near” sandwich boards, and today is simply that the tech is different.

For your know-it-all co-worker who says, “Robots aren’t coming for my job.  Just look at all the hoopla over the ATM machine!  All that fear and what happened?  We ended up with more bank jobs”, I offer this simple distinction:  ATM machines couldn’t learn. Ai can.

Forrester Research says over the next decade we’ll lose 16% of our jobs to Ai but with new job creation the net loss will only be 7%.  Hey awesome, that’s only 10M jobs.  That’s like – say - the population of Michigan.  I suppose that’s ok. We’ll turn Michigan into one big water park.

But, let’s assume for the sake of the argument that Ai is coming.  Assume it’s happening.  Superior intelligence, tireless, perfect workers who don’t need 30-minute potty breaks, have sick aunts, or get bitchy because they don’t have ergonomic desks will be honing in on your domain…what does this mean for the future of work?

One compelling and confidence-building idea bubbles to the surface:  Our supply-side economy functions in a way where the more rare the skills, the more they are valued.  And I posit that those rare skills will continue to associate with Emotional Intelligence; qualities like empathy, insight, intuition, emotional maturity, active listening, humor, spontaneity and improvisation.  Essentially, all the things that make us flawed, fragile, and emotional wrecks as a species are also the qualities of humanity that allow us to engage one another on that uniquely human level.

Look at it this way, who makes a killing in today’s economy? Sport phenoms who can manage the stress to hit three-pointers in a clinch play, entertainment savants who can delight us with movement or touch our emotions with song, or the great storytellers of our age, the movie directors.  And finally, the CEOs – the visionary communicators who can imagine an unseen future, articulate that vision, and engage the hearts and heads of their team to make it a reality.  These gifted people are rewarded quite well in our economy. 

I think that the next era won’t be scary or bleak…unless we can’t find out how to create value for others, communicate and connect, or discipline ourselves to action.  The next era holds promise, but we have to rise to the occasion and embrace our humanity to capture it.

So here's a question:  What are you focusing on, improving, and cultivating to prepare your team for the next era?