Disrupt Or Be Disrupted

TL;DR: AI’s rapid advancement poses new challenges. Essential skills for the AI economy include AI literacy, ethics, and human-AI collaboration. Organizations and individuals need to proactively develop these skills to align with the demands of the AI economy. Read last week’s post here.


At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re already using some form of AI technology on a daily basis in your personal or professional life. Nearly every week, a new AI tool is released that can boost our productivity and improve our work.

But with the accelerated advancement of AI comes a slew of new challenges and implications for our future.

Last week, we discussed how the rapid evolution of AI would impact the core skills we’ve come to rely on over the previous three decades in the knowledge and digital economy. And with so many of those core competencies now called into question, what areas should we prioritize as we go forward?


“What essential skills will we
need in the AI economy?”


In other words: what essential skills will we need to flourish in the new AI economy?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but here is what I think will be the most important.


AI Literacy

Understanding the fundamentals of AI technology will be a critical starting point for both individuals and organizations. This means constantly updating yourself on AI’s evolving capabilities and applications, as well as familiarizing yourself with core concepts that underlie these tools – such as machine learning, big data, model training, and so on.


AI Ethics and Responsibility

Looking at AI ethics and responsibility from an organizational perspective, it’s crucial to explore how AI will affect not only the company’s products or services but also internal relationships and team dynamics. We must recognize that these systems are currently trained on biased data sets; therefore, they often produce biased responses. Educating our teams on these potential biases and inaccuracies is important as we integrate these tools into our daily work.


“We’re in uncharted waters,
and we must tread carefully.”


There are also much broader concerns pertaining to AI ethics and responsibility. Many have been pushing back on AI development, with tens of thousands signing an open letter to slow down the training of more powerful AI systems. Another report recently released about a top-level engineer at Google who expressed concern about the dangers of the AI chatbot he is helping to create.

We have entered uncharted waters, and we must tread carefully.


Data Management and Privacy

As organizations train AI systems on specific data sets to prompt deeper analysis, they must securely manage data to protect user privacy and confidential company information. Who can access this data to train the system, who will have access to use the system itself, and where will the system be hosted — these are all questions companies must consider from a data management and privacy perspective.

Astronaut using smart tablet


Human-AI Collaboration

On an individual level, we must ask ourselves what our core skills are and how AI tools can complement them. Keeping up-to-date with the latest AI tools and getting creative with how we utilize them to accelerate our productivity and improve our output will be a major skill as we look ahead.


AI System Design and Development

The number of applications designed with AI support will grow exponentially, highlighting the importance of people who can design and develop these large language models and AI systems. Even becoming proficient with key programming languages like Python will have short-term and long-term benefits, allowing you to interface with existing APIs to create customized systems that enhance AI collaboration. Programming will become a real superpower, especially if you’re in a technology-oriented space.


AI-Driven Decision-Making

As AI systems become more complex and intricate, their ability to generate actionable insights will increase as well. Going forward, combining and utilizing the right AI tools to generate these insights and draw conclusions from them will be an essential skill.


“Many of the roles we
fill will be transformed.”


Change Management and Adaptability

The disruption that will take place as AI systems become more integrated within organizations will be significant. Leadership must be able to manage this change and help their teams adapt to new skill sets, new collaboration methods, new organizational structures, and so on. Many of the roles we currently fill will be transformed and rescaled — adapting will be vital for success.


AI-Enhanced Creativity and Innovation

Regarding creative work, we already see potent tools that can generate high-quality writing and images. Naturally, these tools will continue to reach other creative domains like video, animation, and music to the same effect. And with the help of these tools as AI collaborators, the creative process will accelerate and transform; There will likely be less time spent on ideation and labor and more time spent on art direction and editorial decision-making.


AI Policy and Regulation

It’s absolutely critical for organizations to understand policies and regulations surrounding AI systems. What are the legal implications of using these tools? What are the creator’s rights? These are just a few of the many questions companies must consider when developing internal policies and regulatory frameworks.


When we take a closer look, there is quite a departure from the skill sets of the knowledge and digital economy we previously discussed.

And I think there is a major opportunity here, from both an organizational and individual perspective, to proactively develop our skill sets so they align with what the AI economy will demand.

We have a choice to make:

Either we self-initiate this disruption and get ahead, or we wait for AI to inevitably cause disruption for us.

That’s all for this week.

Preparing For Radical Disruption

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?

pink seperator line

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.


“Every knowledge job
is at risk.”


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.

astronaut holding a tablet


Digital literacy

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.


Data analysis

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.


Critical thinking and problem-solving

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.


Emotional intelligence

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.


Collaboration and teamwork

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.


Adaptability and learning agility

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.


Leadership and management

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.


Cultural awareness and global mindset

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.


“Embrace the AI change to stay ahead.”


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.