We all know that artificial intelligence is a powerful thinking machine that makes us worry about whether AI will steal human knowledge jobs. We’ve seen mechanical AI replace people in factory jobs. So it’s natural to worry about the future of knowledge work.
Pessimists believe that AI can do a lot of knowledge work. A 2018 article in the Journal of Service Research on AI in Services appears to support their prospect. Researchers have used analytical models to show that as AI moves from mechanics to thinking to feelings, it takes on more of a task. In their scenario, even highly skilled workers who focus on interpersonal relationships and empathy can be replaced by real emotional machines.
Optimists, meanwhile, hold on to the belief that AI is there to help people and can never replace them. Conversely, AI will increase the human workforce. And he probably already has it. But the idea that AI cannot replace human thinking (and feelings) may be human myopic and parochial. AI has reached the level of thinking, so the beautiful picture AI will lift rather than replace human thinking may not last long.
How do people survive and thrive in the economy of thought? Fortunately, there are two areas to focus on.
Be intuitive, not analytical
Thinking AI can be analytical or intuitive, the latter is not very mature. AI seems to suggest a higher percentage of analytical brain teasers, but humans may (for the time being) be able to use AI for intuitive brain teasers. By differentiating between the two types of mental intelligence, we have a clearer idea of which machines are good.
Modern machines are very strong in analytical thinking. Therefore, as humans, we shouldn’t compete with them and try to think like computers. Modern machines are not good at intuitive thinking, however, which shows that we can enjoy thinking intuitively (not even 100% rational) and rely on data analysis to aid our intuition. For example, developing an effective marketing strategy requires an intuition of what works best, knowledge gleaned from experience.
Let the AI adjust for you
The benefits of customizing users have long been known, but we lacked the means and resources to achieve full customization, mainly because of the high cost. These costs may be due to the difficulty of identifying individual consumer preferences or the difficulty of offering individual different products.
However, analytical AI is very good at recognizing patterns and categorizing things from big data. Therefore, with the power of analytical AI in pattern recognition, customization is its main advantage. For example, Netflix relies on machine learning to recommend films to its subscribers. Such personalization involves two machine learning systems: one system analyzes the models for watching movies (the types of films the audience likes and dislikes), and the other system offers recommended films.
In the economy of thought, almost anything can be customized based on algorithms and models for big data input and machine learning. For example, when we go to Amazon.com, the website immediately recognizes us, either because we are logged in or because of our surfing behavior.
All of this ultimately means that in today’s economic thinking, human employees still have an edge in two areas: intuitive thinking and maximizing AI as a tool to provide a personalized customer experience … for now.
As AI advances rapidly, these benefits will soon become obsolete. People in all industries and professions need to start thinking ahead and develop new skills for the upcoming emotional economy, where human employees focus more on empowering interpersonal tasks and empathy. Even for data researchers, the nature of their work needs to focus more on how to communicate methods and results with colleagues and clients, rather than on continuing to master analytical techniques. Companies that start planning for this change are likely to be successful.