Thursday, July 25, 2024

AI To Take 300 Million Jobs? How Creative Thinking Keeps Humans In The Driving Seat – Minutehack

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No one likes the thought of being replaced. Whether it’s on a team or an invite to a party, when someone is picked over us we feel rejected. Well, now that fear is one the whole of the human race might just have to grapple with as we enter into a new AI-powered age. Or at least, that’s how it can feel sometimes.

While it is undeniable that AI will change things in huge, and even unimaginable ways, there’s no reason to think it will supplant us entirely. Certainly, many of us will have heard more buzz about jobs being eradicated at the hands of AI, than we have about its scope for exciting growth and opportunity. This is despite the fact that current estimates suggest AI will create 12 million more jobs than it will replace. What’s arguably even more interesting is the jobs it will transform – and the ways automation will shift the focus of current human roles.

Ultimately, it’s a fallacy to think of the rise of AI in terms of man VS machine. To do so is much like seeing the invention of the motor car as a possible threat to the existence of athletes. Instead, just like cars, AI is simply a tool which can be used to make our lives easier and better – it doesn’t in any way nullify the talent and ability of humans, but can still prove incredibly helpful in other ways.

All this is to say, there are areas in which AI surpasses us in ability, and ones in which we will always have the upper hand. For this very reason, it’s important to understand broadly how AI works. In very simple terms, machine learning attempts to mimic the human ability to learn – we feed it with vast amounts of data, and through algorithms and pattern-spotting it is able to rearrange this information in helpful ways when prompted.

There’s no denying that AI certainly has a better memory than us humans. It can store exact information, and predict complex sequential steps making it better than humans at games such as chess and GO. In the future, we should expect for more and more of the arduous, mundane and finicky work that is managed by humans today to be automated – meaning more time will be left over for the kind of work which we really excel at in a human capacity. That is, work which is creativity and empathy-led. Which nicely brings us onto what exactly humans are good at…

At first glance it can seem that AI is more powerful than us. It seems to “think” much quicker than we can. If you take a popular AI tool such as ChatGPT, for example, it can produce an essay on any topic of your choosing much quicker than even a top academic. Yet, it’s important to remember that it could not do so had it not first been fed with information that had originally been created by humans. What’s more, it cannot truly produce new ideas of its own as – without personhood or consciousness – it cannot express real opinions. All it can really do is rearrange existing information in new, interesting ways. A trait which is helpful but by no means a substitute for human ideation.

Though we take it for granted, as people we are at every moment of every day receiving and metabolising huge amounts of information from the world around us. We have emotional responses to what we experience and the way we and others behave as a result. All of this informs our ability to think, feel and create. While AI might be able to, for example, produce a large amount of mock up designs for a project – it does not have true experience of the world, and so is unable to offer judgement on what might work best for a particular audience or style.

What this really means is that, in the future, creativity will be the quality which keeps humans in the driving seat. That is not only because we are able to impart judgement, but because we are still so capable of being creative in novel and abundant ways. This will become an even more crucial skill in the future. It’s all very well and good having machine learning tools which might be able to fulfil our every wish, but not much use if we don’t know what to wish for.

What this essentially means is that it is the human imagination which will make AI useful – it cannot fulfil its potential on its own, it needs us to provide the innovative fuel that will make it powerful. This might come in the form of the prompts we actually hand over to AI, but also in terms of the roles we do at work more broadly. With AI to take over the mundane and technical aspects of our daily jobs, much of what we do will naturally shift towards more imaginative, intelligent work.

What’s more, this creative work will be accelerated with AI to help us – it allows for prototypes of ideas to be pedalled out faster, requiring less budget and time, meaning there will be more space for experimentation.

Taken in totality, AI and humanity can combine together to produce a creative snowball effect in which our broader working culture is more innovative and exciting than ever before. Of course, this is only truly possible if we also embrace AI. Fear is a damaging response to any new phenomenon as it is likely to blind us to all the vast possibilities before us. By learning, now, to lean into our own creative abilities, we can prepare for a future in which our propensity for innovative thinking is the trait which helps us not only stay abreast with AI, but maximise its potential – and our own potential in turn.

Chris Griffiths and Caragh Medlicott are the authors of The Focus Fix: Finding clarity, creativity and resilience in an overwhelming world (out 3 July 2024, Kogan Page).

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