Technology and the disruptions it causes are a Hard Trend future certainty, in that it will continue to upend industry after industry without prejudice.
There are a number of fears surrounding displacement by technology by both business leaders and employees in an array of industries, but the common thread ties tightly to automation software and hardware.
In other words, many fear that robotics and artificial intelligence (A.I.) will lead the charge in permanently removing human beings from their careers, leaving them unemployed and without any new opportunities. Let me dispel it from the start: This is not going to happen. Changes will take place but being human is a highly leverageable asset in the digitally disruptive future.
In my Anticipatory Leader System, there are several competencies that I teach that point to why and how human beings will become more valuable than ever as technology gets more autonomous by the day. Transitioning to an anticipatory mindset as a business leader or employee and using it to shift your company to be an anticipatory organization to stay ahead of digital disruption, is an ongoing end goal in this process.
There are countless applications of artificially intelligent software and hardware in the world today, from content writing applications that can take keywords and generate targeted blogs to robotics in automotive manufacturing that can not only diagnose problems in their systems, but fix them as well using machine learning (M.L.) and edge computing.
It is hard to find an area of the world not impacted by this transformative digital technology. To help get in front of this disruption, let’s look at two current, prominent examples from the past year or so:
Pharmaceutical Labs: In a lab environment, scientists and engineers are constantly at risk of exposing themselves to potentially harmful chemicals while developing anything, really. This is especially true in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, where a plethora of chemicals both safe and harmful are abundant.
Not only have A.I. and autonomous machines found their way into this world to help with production of medications, but they are starting to become a more favorable option in all chemical-facing areas of a lab, essentially eliminating the need for a scientist or engineer to ever set foot into the same space.
Rideshare Drivers: This is still a few years off, but it is accelerating in many communities across the nation and around the world. As many automobiles hit the market with fully autonomous capabilities, rideshare platforms like Uber and Lyft — who already disrupted the public transportation industries with their applications — will start utilizing those types of vehicles to transport individuals instead of individual drivers.
Rideshare platforms are in what is referred to as the “gig economy,” where individuals who drive under them do it part time for extra money. Fully autonomous vehicles bring a new level of disruption to those who rely on that extra money to help get them by, while allowing the rideshare companies to save customers money by not having to adjust driver rates so frequently.
Those two examples may sound bleak and counterintuitive to what I discussed earlier about human beings still being valuable despite autonomous technology and A.I. being a smoother option. But don’t worry; we have reached the positive resolution of this story, and it too is as much of a Hard Trend future certainty as technology causing disruptions in the first place!
What those who are finding themselves professionally displaced by these disruptive technologies must do is first identify some of the characteristics of being human that are irreplaceable by technology, no matter how advanced that technology becomes. Here are a few to get started:
Communication: Machines cannot communicate using body language, tone of voice, or any other way that humans are proficient in. Given this fact, polishing your communication skills, both spoken and written, is integral in increasing your human value.
Collaboration: Working together as employees or leaders with their employees is irreplaceable by even the smartest A.I. Software and hardware that leverages A.I. and automation is programmed to respond, or to cooperate with you, which is a one-way street. So much more can be accomplished on a two-lane highway of collaboration!
Adaptability: The fact that we make mistakes and take missteps is actually a valuable asset in both professional and personal situations. The reason behind this value is since we then problem-solve to find a solution, often uncovering a better way to solve a problem — precisely what an anticipatory mindset is all about!
Creative Critical Thinking: Machines are not sentient beings. Creative critical thinking is a subcategory of adaptability: the act of us thinking critically and getting creative about how to better solve a problem that we either know is going to cause us issues, or one that has already disrupted us. A.I. and automation can only learn so many ways to solve problems systematically.
Relationship Building: Human beings develop long-term relationships with customers, colleagues, and business partners. Artificially intelligent bots that connect with those same individuals can easily be ignored and disregarded for a different bot, leaving you without a trustworthy connection to an individual.
If technology and digital disruptions caused by them are Hard Trend future certainties that are not going away, and we as humans will always need to be employable to continue to make money and have purpose, how do these meet?
By way of a competency from my Anticipatory Leader System known as The Both/And Principle, there will always be a place for both human beings and autonomous technologies in all industries.
Revisiting our previous examples, scientists and engineers in pharmaceutical labs may not be able to work hands-on with the development of medication, but they are still irreplaceable by way of creative critical thinking about scientific breakthroughs, or collaboration with like-minded professionals in the industry.
For our rideshare example, there is going to be a growing need for service shops to keep autonomous vehicles used by the likes of Uber and Lyft on the roads, and if they are electric automobiles, there will be new maintenance routines needed that were nonexistent in the past. The adaptability of those who integrated driving under rideshare platforms will shine through, and they may find themselves in a newer, more lucrative career as an autonomous vehicle repair specialist.
In these and so many other examples, using an anticipatory mindset to stay aware of what can and will disrupt your world keeps you ahead of the game. Being anticipatory is a human competency, one that employs all those valuable human traits mentioned earlier, and therefore, you will always have an edge on the machines.
Daniel Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading futurists on global trends and innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus in the highest demand as a speaker. He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, helping them to accelerate innovation and results by develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. His client list includes companies such as Microsoft, GE, American Express, Google, Deloitte, Procter & Gamble, Honda, and IBM. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller Flash Foresight, and his latest book The Anticipatory Organization. He is a featured writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of innovation, change and the future and has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Wired, CNBC, and Huffington Post to name a few. He has been the featured subject of several PBS television specials and has appeared on programs such as CNN, Fox Business, and Bloomberg, and is quoted in a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Fortune, and Forbes. He has founded six businesses, four of which were national leaders in the United States in the first year. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities. In 1983 he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic change for decades to come. He also linked exponential computing advances to economic value creation. His specialties are technology-driven trends, strategic innovation, strategic advising and planning, business keynote presentations.