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13 December 2022

5 Skills That Artificial Intelligence Cannot Replace

Jairek Robbins

According to the World Economic Forum, nearly 50% of all Americans think artificial intelligence and robots will, in the coming 50 years, probably do the work currently done by humans, while about 10% think this will definitely happen. Are you one of these people who think robots as well as computers will render you unemployed? Below are some skills that artificial intelligence will be unable to replace.

Emotional intelligence & empathy

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize your own and the emotions of others, and leverage this knowledge in productive ways. For example, an emotionally intelligent supervisor can arouse the enthusiasm of their team and spur them to do a stellar job on a project.

Empathy on the other hand has to do with putting oneself in the shoes of another person, so to speak. For instance, if a co-worker has lost a family member, being empathetic entails understanding how they are feeling and offering them time off to mourn and recover from their loss.

Emotional intelligence and empathy are skills that artificial intelligence may find hard to grasp since these are innate to human beings. Not even machine learning can arm robots and AI systems with these soft skills. Having a higher level of these abilities therefore makes you “AI-proof” since you will remain relevant in the workforce regardless of how much automation and AI your industry adopts.

Conflict resolution & negotiation

Conflict resolution and negotiation are skills that robots and AI may find hard to acquire because effective conflict resolution and negotiation makes use of multiple hard-to-quantify elements, such as the ability to read (or listen) between the lines, appreciate the nuances existing in situations and causing conflict to arise, and so on.

AI programs cannot have sufficient input, at least at the present moment, to make the system effective at conflict resolution as well as negotiation. Only a human can be good at this and produce a win-win outcome for all parties involved.

Strategic thinking

The workplace will always need people who can think strategically. Strategic thinking involves seeing the big picture and ensuring that every small bit of work or process contributes to the strategic direction of the company.

Strategic thinking may call for making a sacrifice now for future stability and benefit. For example, building redundancy into the online ordering system of your company will be seen as inefficient by an AI system because such systems are designed to optimize every function they execute. However, the redundancy can come in handy when a marketing campaign goes viral and triggers a rush of orders. Without that redundancy, the system would have crashed and the best sales period of the company would have gone up in smoke.

For this reason, the proliferation of AI at the workplace shouldn’t cause you any worries if you have developed the ability to think strategically. Your skills will always be on high demand and no robot will take your place.

Flexibility & adaptability

The human race has managed to remain at the top of the food chain because of our ability to be flexible and adaptable. Nothing is constant in this world, and flexibility as well as adaptability are therefore vital to survival.

Think about the recent pandemic as an example. Without flexibility and adaptability, the global economy would have totally collapsed as a result of the lockdowns imposed to slow the march of infections.

The thing is, AI is programmed to work in a linear way based on quantifiable factors included in its code. When things take an unexpected turn, AI becomes ineffective or even a liability because it will keep operating as though nothing has changed.

If you are flexible and adaptable, AI will never replace you at the workplace because by its very nature, it is designed to bring consistency and predictability to processes.

Leadership skills

Leadership skills, such as setting up functional teams, coaching and mentorship, effective delegation, analytical thinking, effective communication, and ethical awareness are vital to the functioning of any organization so that the different parts of that organization work together to yield the desired results.

For example, the team charged with product development doesn’t work in isolation because the information collected by the sales team helps to shape future product features, without neglecting what is happening in finance.

Leaders coordinate all these seemingly diverse yet connected functions so that the company runs smoothly, like a well-oiled machine. Can you begin to imagine the load of input that an AI system would require to perform even a tiny fraction of this leadership role?

AI is unlikely to replace the leadership function currently exercised by humans because a lot of technical ability, experience and soft skills go into the successful provision of leadership.

AI Complements Humans

While it is true that some basic, repetitive and low-skill jobs will be taken over by AI and other related technologies, by and large, AI is there to support human labor. For example, an AI-based system may not design effective marketing emails, but it will schedule those emails and move prospects through the sales funnel until humans take over to discuss the finer details before a deal is struck.

As automation and AI makes its way into different industries, it is important to reskill, retrain and upgrade your competencies to a higher level away from manual or repetitive tasks. In this way, you will stay ahead of the curve and will have nothing to worry about regarding the increasing level of AI deployed in workplaces. After all, AI can’t exist without humans since it is we who design, maintain and ensure the AI is working as it should!


To Your Success,

Jairek Robbins

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