With leaders like Mark Cuban discussing the rise of artificial intelligence and automation in the tech sector — and the growing fear that robots may take over everything — it’s easy to forget just how important and irreplaceable uniquely human talents are.
Mark Cuban recently predicted that the first tech trillionaire will be the person who perfects AI technology. He pointed out that technical skills are already being absorbed by ever-smarter automation, leading to complex automated systems that are learning and rapidly expanding. Similarly, Elon Musk recently issued a warning that AI is “vastly more risky than North Korea” and could make humans second-class citizens.
The thing to keep in mind here, though, is that the skills that cannot be easily replaced by a robot will be increasingly important to the success of your company.
“The ability to wade through lines of code and speak in jumbles of jargon aren’t qualities that will define the leaders of the future,” claims Daniel Wesley, founder, and CEO of Quote.com and one of the driving forces behind tech expansion in Tampa, Fla. “To thrive, those at the top of tech companies must leverage the uniquely human aspects of their teams and talent. That starts by understanding what is appropriate to automate and what would be better left to humans.”
The key will be harnessing the power of automated tools and successfully pairing that with irreplaceable human talents. As Mark Cuban himself put it, “Knowing how to critically think and assess them from a global perspective, I think, is going to be more valuable than what we see as exciting careers today.” We should not focus solely on efficiency, but on maximizing the time that talented employees can put toward creating and building relationships.
There are five uniquely human talents in particular that you should never try to fully replace with AI:
1. Executive assistants: Automated assistants are helpful in increasing productivity, but they have the immediate effect of emotionally disconnecting you from your employees. Want to see dissatisfaction spread rapidly? Refer all your correspondence to an automated assistant — no one’s ever gotten frustrated with an automated phone system before.
Having a human assistant not only helps maintain that connection, but it also increases productivity. As Melba J. Duncan, president and founder of The Duncan Group, Inc., describes, “They filter the distractions that can turn a manager into a reactive type who spends all day answering email instead of a leader who proactively sets the organization’s agenda.”
2. Legal representation: Do you want to trust your legal matters to a machine? While AI can efficiently catalog written laws, most cases have messy sets of facts and circumstances that don’t fit within the black-and-white written rules. You would still want someone on your side who can both understand the law and argue on your behalf.
3. Creative thinkers: By definition, algorithms are relying on existing information, and true breakthroughs don’t come from existing ideas. “Breakthrough creativity is fundamentally organic, not algorithmic,” says writer Nick Seneca Jankel. “Whilst computers and the businesses that run on are breakthroughs, they themselves will never make them.”
No machine will ever replace a visionary like Steve Jobs. So if you’re hoping for disruption in your business, humans beat algorithms every time.
4. Sales managers and salespeople: While some sales tasks may be replaced by AI, sales jobs that require networking, charisma, and high adaptability should not be automated.
“In person, you pick up on physical tells. You can also talk casually to learn information that might help you out later,” Jeff Winters, founder, and CEO of Sapper Consulting explains while discussing the skills of a great salesperson in a recent post. “On the phone, you can’t see your prospect, so you get good at recognizing voice inflection, managing silence, and so on.” In essence, human salespeople have interactive skills, both in person and on the phone, that an automated service would never be able to fully emulate.
5. People managers: Any job requiring the management of people, responses based on emotional cues, or the development of culture requires an empathetic mind. This can range from midlevel corporate managers to healthcare workers who respond and react to emotional and nonverbal cues. Even robots that can understand intent can easily make incorrect assumptions because they can’t truly interpret human emotion.
AI can only respond in ways that fit both logic and known solutions, unlike humans who can break the rules of logic to achieve brilliance. The leaders who will succeed moving forward will harness the power of AI tools and recognize when human talents are required for success.