Generative AI is changing the world, and the last months have seen a veritable revolution of new announcements. While he at that time had no idea about the coming revolution of Generative AI, which we are presently experiencing, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma 2017 forecasted a potential societal upheaval due to the disruptive impact of the internet and AI on various economic sectors. He said that machines should not replace what humans do but replace what humans can’t, hence becoming a “human partner”. Before we look into what that may mean, how is the disruption rolling out? The following anecdote illustrates the change.
The Changing Landscape of Work
Jane, a seasoned journalist for a renowned digital magazine, had always been up for challenges. When tasked with writing an in-depth article on the ever-evolving landscape of AI technologies, she knew it wouldn’t be a walk in the park, given the volume of information to digest. Yet, Jane had a secret weapon: an array of AI tools.
Jane had initial ideas, but they were raw and needed refining. She enlisted the aid of ChatGPT to brainstorm and shape these rudimentary thoughts into compelling subjects for exploration. Like a seasoned colleague, the AI tool provided her with diverse perspectives, amplifying her creative process.
When it came to the arduous research task, she didn’t resort to the conventional method of manually sifting through numerous articles and academic papers. Instead, she employed Google Bard and Microsoft Bing Chat to cherry-pick relevant pieces. Subsequently, she brought in ChatGPT to distil the essence of these resources. The AI tool analysed and summarised the pivotal points, allowing her to bypass hours of meticulous study.
Now equipped with a wealth of knowledge, Jane sought to enrich her article with expert opinions. She leveraged ChatGPT once again to devise pertinent interview questions. After enlightening conversations with a few industry authorities, she turned to another generative AI solution. This tool seamlessly transcribed the recorded interviews, providing her with a textual format that she could easily incorporate into her piece.
Following this, Jane dove into moulding the raw text into a meaningful narrative. She omitted certain sections, rehashed others, and added her personal touch here and there. Her style permeated the content, making it uniquely hers. Once the draft was crafted to her satisfaction, she used Grammarly, an AI-powered tool, for the finishing touches. This application polished her language, grammar, and style, ensuring her article was coherent, engaging, and error-free.
Finally, she felt that some eye-catching illustrations could make her article pop. Rather than outsourcing this task or attempting to create them herself, she opted for Dal-E and Midjourney. These AI tools transformed her textual descriptions into captivating visuals, adding a visual treat for her readers.
As Jane hit the submit button on her meticulously crafted article, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at the intricate dance she had performed with AI. Far from feeling threatened, she acknowledged how these AI tools had empowered her to be more efficient, innovative, and productive. Ultimately, she had not just written an article about AI – she had lived it.
Generative AI revolution
The anecdote above is not a futuristic scenario but an entirely realistic scenario. Note that the AI tools did not write Jane’s final article, but she used the AI tools to get the article done faster and better and was still entirely in charge. In addition, Jane knew the subject reasonably well and verified the content not to get surprised by any AI hallucinations. However, with these new technologies at our fingerprint, a journalist like Jane can produce a high-quality article in a couple of hours compared to a few days or a week in the past. When individuals such as Jane can increase their productivity, the number of journalists required may reduce. Some people will lose their jobs, but others will become more successful. This always happens when disruptive technology is introduced. In that case, what competence would we have to develop to survive?
As the digital revolution gains pace, numerous job roles face significant changes. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, are rapidly advancing, driving a shift that could potentially disrupt various roles, particularly those in the white-collar sector. Roles including coders, software developers, data analysts, content creators, legal assistants, market research analysts, teachers, financial advisors, graphic designers, and customer service agents, among others, are seeing shifts and, in some cases, even replacement.
However, these technological advancements should not be viewed merely as threats to job security. They present an opportunity to enhance productivity and refocus human effort towards tasks that require uniquely human insight and creativity. The key to successfully navigating these changes lies in refining and applying our soft skills.
Soft Skills in an AI-Dominant Era
While Generative AI will help us become more productive, we must learn how to use the tools well. Like how to write good prompts, we also need to develop uniquely human skills. An article in Forbes Magazin “7 Soft Skills You Should Master to Advance Your Career”, analyses the need for developing soft skills to counter the threats from Generative AIAs we stand on the cusp of this AI-dominant era, here are the soft skills that will prove crucial:
Recognising one’s strengths, weaknesses, and values will foster genuine interactions in the workplace. This soft skill can help professionals establish a brand that differentiates them from AI.
In an increasingly automated work environment, the ability to give and receive feedback remains central to maintaining productive professional relationships. Actually, we humans are much better at responding to change than generative AI, which is typically built on a very large model that cannot be rebuilt very often!
- Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
As AI takes over more tasks requiring logical analysis, managing one’s emotions and understanding others’ emotions will set professionals apart. In this new landscape, EQ, not IQ, is likely to become the defining factor for success in the workplace.
Listening effectively, especially in a virtual environment with limited visual cues, is critical for understanding others and expressing value in their input. As remote work continues to dominate, this skill will prove invaluable.
- Inclusive Leadership
As work becomes more distributed and digital, leaders should strive to make their team feel included and integral to the organisation by understanding them emotionally. This is a critical skill that AI cannot replicate.
Adopting a coaching mindset will allow professionals to interact productively with colleagues without being overly directive, demanding, or demeaning. As AI reshapes roles and tasks, the ability to guide and support others in navigating this change will be crucial.
- Virtual Presence
Despite limited visual cues, demonstrating confidence and leading engaging hybrid meetings is a highly relevant skill in the current remote work era. Commanding attention and facilitating effective virtual communication will be a significant asset.
Conclusion: Embracing Generative AI as an Opportunity
The rise of Generative AI in the workplace presents both challenges and opportunities. While some job roles may be automated, others will evolve and create new roles. Amid these changes, soft skills will play an increasingly important role in maintaining our value within the workforce. By developing these skills, we can harness AI advancements to our advantage, using tools like ChatGPT to increase our productivity and facilitate new modes of collaboration.
In the anecdote, Jane (like the rest of us) needs to develop her unique human skills and learn how to use technology.
While AI continues to develop, it’s important to remember that it’s a tool, a productivity enhancer—not a replacement for human judgment and the unique value we bring to our roles. As we navigate this era of change, let’s view AI not as a threat but as an opportunity for us to redefine and advance our careers.
For a deeper analysis of the subject, I recommend the following Harvard Business Review Article – What Will Working with AI Really Require?