Image: A San Francisco eatery operating on 100% AI, making it quick and easy for workers in the area.

Hundreds of jobs such as drivers, radiologists, sales and cashiers are facing substitution with machines in the next five years. How can humans stay relevant? We need a better understanding of how the human brain can work in harmony with artificial intelligence (AI).

Are you concerned that AI will make your job obsolete?

At no time in history have we ever expected individuals to cope with ingesting and acting on so much information, across so many channels of communication. And many of us are at a tipping point.

We are burning out with huge to-do lists, fried on an overwhelming diet of immediacy. This immediacy is eating away at critical thinking, imagination, judgement, mental and physical health, and ultimately impacting families, communities, business, and government.

Two quotes that resonate with me:

Antonia Damasio PhD, Professor of Neuroscience, said:

We are not thinking machines that feel, but feeling machines that think”,

while Albert Einstein said:

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.

These two powerful lines underpin much of what is creating the ‘action epidemic’ in modern society.

Immediacy and Execution

Over the past decade, we have placed an incredibly high value on immediacy and execution. We have removed, perhaps unwittingly, deep thinking and creativity out of many parts of our professional lives. However, the tide is turning…

Once you’ve worked out your peak performance time, and protected it, you need to give yourself regular breaks. These need to be approximately every 90 minutes but with mini “brain breaks”, these periods can be extended. To run properly, your brain requires oxygen and blood, so a yawn or a stretch? – this is actually your brain calling out for a break.

When it is time for a break there are plenty of things you can try. Get up and take a walk, take a few deep breaths or walk-and-talk for important 1:1 meetings. All of these things will help you extend your deep thinking time.

Artificial intelligence and natural intelligence

As we head into a future where machines (AI) will overtake the doing, there has never been a greater premium on creativity and emotional intelligence.

The art of imagination is back!

Now is the time to create more ways, and far better ways to gain perspective and rewire our brains to ensure we give the machines plenty of good direction in the future. 

We can do this by harnessing the power of our natural intelligence using neuroscience.

Artificial intelligence is good at processing data…

Even the most sophisticated AI technology is, at its core, is similar from other computer software: bits of data running through circuits at super-fast rates. Artificial learning, machine learning and deep learning, can all solve problems as long as you can turn it into the right data sets.

Where AI falls short is thinking in the abstract, applying common sense, or transferring knowledge from one area to another. For instance, Google’s Duplex might be very good at reserving restaurant tables and setting up appointments with your Doctor, two specific and narrow tasks. However, as soon as the conversation goes off course, Duplex will be hard-pressed to answer in a coherent way. It will either have to disengage or use the help of a human assistant to continue the conversation in a meaningful way.

… And humans are good at making abstract decisions

Humans can make abstract decisions based on instinct, common sense and scarce information.

A human child learns to handle objects at a very young age.

Humans can invent new things, including all the technologies that have ushered in the era of artificial intelligence. AI can only take data, compare it, come up with new combinations and presentations, and predict trends based on previous sequences.

Humans can feel, imagine, dream. They can be selfless or greedy. They can love and hate, they can lie, they forget, they confuse facts. And all of those emotions can change their decisions in rational or irrational ways. Every single person is unique in his or her own way and can create things that no one else can.

None of this means that AI is superior to the human brain, or vice versa.

The point is, they’re totally different things.

  • AI is good at repetitive tasks that have clearly defined boundaries and can be represented by data. It is not so good at broad tasks that require intuition and decision-making based on incomplete information.
  • Human intelligence is good for settings where you need common sense and abstract decisions, and bad at tasks that require heavy computations and data processing in real-time.
  • AI and human intelligence complement each other, making up for each other’s shortcomings. Together, they can perform tasks that none of them could have done individually adding unique value to business success and results with being more effective and faster together.
  • As AI becomes adept at performing more and more tasks, we as humans will find more time to put our intelligence to real use. As humans we are skilled at creative, being social, art, sports, literature, poetry and all the things that are valuable because of the human element and character that goes into them.

What value does neuroscience provide?

Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system, which includes the brain and the spinal cord. It helps us to understand ourselves and others better. With this improved understanding, we have better communication, adaptability, resilience and are able to leverage emotional intelligence.

By having a better understanding of our brain, what drives it and what gets in the way, it will empower you to effectively lead through change and transition to deliver business results in new ways.

There are two key areas where humans will continue to add value now and in the future

1) EI – Empathy, a uniquely human trait.

2) Deep thinking – where creativity, innovation, problem-solving and decision making all give AI good direction.

3 Tips for your career

Tip 1: Investigate career and education options

Find out more about what innovative organisations are doing in this learning and development space that gives them a competitive advantage. Promote field trips to other organisations in different industries that are applying AI in new and different ways. This can provide opportunities for learning.

See and learn what others are doing about similar challenges you experience in your organisation. Personally, I have found non-competing companies surprisingly gracious about sharing information.

Short courses and certifications working with AI in your field or a field of interest could really be valuable to you.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Toffler.

Tip 2: Protect your deep thinking within each day.

Deep thinking is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. In this fast-paced digital age, there is a notable drop-in attention span down from 12 seconds to 8 seconds (less than a goldfish).

To effectively conduct deep thinking,

  • Identify when you do your best thinking within each day.
  • Now protect it by eliminating distractions including communicating with others the importance of what you are working on.
  • Turn off devices or any pinging noises that may distract you for a certain amount of time, 60-90mins blocks.
  • Track your productivity within this timeframe and or present your ideas and outcomes to relevant stakeholders to show the value of your time spent.

Tip 3: Continuously develop your Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

I am often asked what is this thing called emotional intelligence? Are we born or made emotionally intelligent? And, do leaders naturally have higher EQ, or is it something they need to work on?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – Your skills of being aware of your emotions and those of others along with managing your emotions and your relationships; a skill that you can learn.

Leaders come in all different shapes and sizes in terms of EQ – however, it is critical to continuously improve our ability to connect, influence and overcome conflict effectively.

So why are neuroscience and artificial intelligence your key to success?

Neuroscience is providing easy to use frameworks and social motivation models to help with engagement, influencing and dealing with conflict in brain-friendly ways.

Combine this with the efficiencies of artificial intelligence and you will find your company producing the results you desire.

If you would like to find out more about how to learn, unlearn and relearn can be a key to your success with building emotional intelligence and resilience, and how we can help you achieve that, please contact me.