TL;DR AI has introduced a force of such radical disruption that most of the skills of the knowledge and digital economies have quickly become historical artifacts. Which skills will the AI Economy emphasize?
When I first got my hands on ChatGPT in November of last year, I was blown away. Its ability to summarize and synthesize with such a high degree of quality was a major eye-opener for me — I couldn’t believe we were here.
And as AI technology continues to advance at breakneck speeds, we must brace ourselves for the radical disruption that lies ahead. Every week that passes, it feels like an exponential leap has been taken forward in both an understanding and appreciation of what is changing for good.
Large language models like ChatGPT are challenging the very foundations of the knowledge economy, calling into question the core competencies we have come to rely on within creative roles and knowledge jobs.
I would even go as far as saying: every knowledge job is at risk. And I can guarantee that 9 months from now, our technological landscape will have advanced so dramatically that this moment will feel like a distant memory.
So how do we stay ahead of the curve? We’ve got to change our mindset. We must try to evolve from the old ways and explore the new opportunities that AI provides us.
Since the late 80s/90s, we have lived in the eras of the knowledge and/or digital economy. I think a great starting point is to explore the essential skills of the knowledge economy that are radically disrupted by AI.
Technical proficiency with computers, smartphones, and the internet is now a baseline prerequisite. Digital literacy will take on new meaning as AI-driven tools and systems become more sophisticated; staying current with rapid developments in AI will be essential.
The ability to collect, analyze, and interpret data as it is formerly known will no longer exist. AI algorithms will reach a level of data analysis proficiency that eliminates the need for human involvement and devalues this skill altogether.
AI’s capacity to analyze vast amounts of information more quickly and accurately than humans, along with its ability to take over routine and mundane tasks, will free up time and energy for us to focus on more complex problems that demand critical thinking. This is an area that is still in our hands, however, we will become increasingly reliant on AI-assisted methods going forward.
High emotional intelligence was a real focus for great leadership in the knowledge economy. But with increased reliance on AI technology, it is very possible that we will see less face-to-face human interactions — which may cause emotional incompetence when dealing with teammates and clients.
The collaborative process will be completely different when an AI system becomes a team member. Team dynamics will change, and in some contexts, AI will eliminate the need for human collaboration completely. And what will happen when a member of the team is replaced by AI? Could this spawn a new form of workplace paranoia? These are questions we will have to contend with going forward.
The incredibly fast pace of AI development will likely continue to accelerate, making adaptability and rapid learning essential skills. How fast people can adapt to change and whether or not they have the aptitude for rapid learning are defining questions that will dictate survival in this new economy.
A strong understanding of AI technologies and a willingness to adapt to the latest advancements will be a continuous point of emphasis for leaders of the future. They must learn how to effectively collaborate with AI systems, integrate them into their decision-making processes, and gain a deep understanding of how AI will impact their employees and the business as a whole.
This is an important area where AI-powered tools can enhance cultural awareness by providing access to different information sources, perspectives, and insights. When AI systems are sensitive to cultural diversity, we can use them to educate and train our teams on the cultural impact of their decisions and improve relationships.
As we are discovering, there is a wide range of both positive and negative effects that follow the rapid development of AI.
It is crucial to embrace this change to stay ahead — not run from it.
Lean into what AI can offer you and your organization, leveraging it to support and improve your processes.
And while many of these areas will be strongly impacted by AI systems, it is unlikely that these will be the key characteristics of the AI economy.
That is a conversation for next week.