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AI is growing rapidly, but it won’t replace these 2 human skills

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Before you worry about losing your job down the road, consider what a robot can't replace ...

If you haven’t noticed, artificial intelligence is rapidly growing in our world. Everything from bank transactions to signing in at doctor’s offices is now done through automation. Sometimes this is wildly convenient (hello, pediatrician’s iPad!) and sometimes it’s wildly inconvenient (raise your hand if you’ve shouted “LET ME TALK TO A HUMAN BEING!!” at an automated voice-recognition service).

Regardless of whether you love it or hate it, one thing is certain: AI isn’t going anywhere; in fact, it’s only going to get more extensive in our society, according to Thrive Global’s interview with Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China:

The Future of Jobs 2018 report, released Monday, backs up Lee’s predictions: it forecasts that by 2025, more than half of all current workplace tasks will be performed by machines. That’s up from 29 percent today.

But Lee has some exciting news for those of us wondering what this means for our industries and our jobs. There are two important qualities that machines won’t be replacing anytime soon: creativity and compassion.

Lee predicts that anything that can be automated will be — a shift that will revolutionize the job market and many professions … but maybe not in the apocalyptic way we tend to envision.

Lee focuses on teaching as one profession that will see a major shift, as AI will take over the rote, easily replicated tasks of teaching such as giving the same lectures semester after semester, or grading papers and giving exams.

However, rather than destroy the role of teachers, Lee believe this will actually free teachers to focus more on the essential tasks that only humans can perform — tasks like one-on one mentorship and training, or adapting lessons to fit student’s diverse learning styles and abilities.

I can see the usefulness of AI when it comes to grading Scantron-style exams or multiple choice tests where there is one right answer, but I hesitate over the idea that AI will ever be able to think with the creativity and subtlety required to grade essays that test students critical thinking and reasoning skills. After all, a student might have an answer that’s “wrong” according to a rubric, but one that is well-reasoned and creatively constructed. AI might mark the answer wrong where a professor would consider its merits.

That being said, allowing AI to take over the rote tasks in any profession could certainly free humans up to devote more time to what really matters — building compassionate relationships and thinking creatively to find solutions. Instead of doctors spending hours calling or emailing prescriptions, they could spend that time connecting with patients and considering alternate treatment or remedies. Likewise with lawyers … rather than spending hours compiling case notes and collating evidence, they could turn those tasks over to AI and spend more time figuring out the best way to approach a case and help their client.

In all these cases, though, the one thing that’s certain is that compassion and creativity are going to be the most important skills for us to cultivate in a rapidly shifting professional world. And the best way to cultivate these skills is simply to practice them.

Spend time building relationships, both in your professional life and out of it. Foster your creativity where ever you can. At the end of the day, business boils down to our people skills and our ability to innovate and solve problems, so even if the AI revolution is further away than we think, it’s still the best way to improve your professional and personal life.

The truth is, becoming more compassionate and creative goes a lot further than ensuring your future against an AI revolution; it ensures your present against a different, more insidious type of revolution — selfishness and stagnation. Rather than approaching life wondering what you’re going to get out of it, ask yourself what you can give to your clients, colleagues, family, and friends. Developing more compassion and using your talents aren’t just skills, they help you  grow in Christian virtue — so embrace it!

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