As a minimalist being stuck on lock down, I sure have been blessed with so much free time to learn and do new things I would not normally do if life was still the way it was pre-COVID-19. I’ve been reading and learning a lot about how this pandemic will change the future of work and the changes we have to go through to remain functional as a society. With social distancing and remote work being practiced globally, the imminent use of AI in all aspects of our lives will be accelerated in the coming months. Aside from the fact that AIs won’t be infected with the virus, it is the most cost-efficient way to ensure business continuity especially for companies who heavily rely on processes that can be automated like book-keeping, proofreading, transportation services, and many others. Although despite that, I still believe that AI will not be able to take over most of the jobs known to man because there are still a lot of things they cannot do that require humanistic qualities.
Since the beginning of time, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been portrayed as humanity’s greatest enemy. We are threatened by their existence because they are everything we are not – objective, obedient, stoic. People have a hard time becoming those three things because we are highly emotional beings. In the work setting, showing too much feelings is frowned upon because it is a sign of instability and helplessness. Not gaining control of ones’ emotions is a sign of incompetence because we tend to be irrational and unproductive when our moods take over. At the end of the day, our employers just need results – nothing personal, it’s just business.
However, I believe our feelings and emotions are not a disadvantage because it is for this reason that we continue searching for better and greater things. Humanity’s drive for growth and excellence are the reasons why we came up with AI to begin with. People want more output in a shorter amount of time so they can do more meaningful things outside of work, like spending time with family and honing a creative skill. As time progresses and AIs become more sophisticated, we will learn what things they can do better than us. We should not see this as a negative situation where they will eventually take over our jobs and the world. Instead, we should see this as an opportunity to evolve into higher, more complex human beings.
For people to grow into more multi-faceted and multi-talented beings, there is a need to revamp and overhaul the educational system to teach them how to best use their emotions in more strategic and productive ways. We would normally deal with our feelings in disparaging methods, thereby making us useless and dysfunctional. While it is part of human nature, it is the role of educational systems to future-proof humans by teaching us how to re-channel that emotional energy into improving global well-being. People should be taught how to manage and understand their emotions so they can have control and clarity on the effects it has on our lives and how it can be used as opportunities for growth. Having that ability to dissect and understand emotions will enable us to better manage our personal well-being while also allowing us to look for creative, human-centered solutions to global problems. In doing so, we ensure that the things we are doing and the jobs we are generating are indispensable and purposeful.
AIs will not eliminate all meaningful jobs because it is us, humans, who put meaning and value in jobs. Meaningfulness, like feelings, is subjective. If we feel that what we are doing is still needed by society and no other person (or robot) can do it better than us, then that just shows how important our work is. Humanity’s ever-changing needs and wants dictate what is deemed essential in the world, and if we upgrade our capabilities and skills depending on that, we will never be replaceable and useless. As long as we put global well-being at the core of what we do, we will always find ways to stay relevant and needed.