On Being Human and Working in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Astoundingly positive things will come from artificial intelligence, but we would hardly know that from the onslaught of magazines and movies that paint a despotic future. Storytellers know fear sells. So let’s just admit, AI, like any technology, will have its dark side but can we stop obsessing about robots chasing after us and focus on the real opportunity? Let’s start teaching a new wave of employees the importance of teaming with AI. People will be more employable, and employers will build more competitive companies. As MIT Physics Professor Max Tegmar says, “Intelligence is the crux of the problem.” Our intelligence is the reason we have more power than any other animal on the planet. Let’s place hope in ourselves that the more we learn from each other and learn from these new AI enabled machines, the more we could build a better life with a focus on growing and sharing intelligence.

Recently, IBM’s Watson Team partnered with BMC to develop in-car AI capabilities using Watson IoT technology. The goal is to process in-car data alongside artificially intelligent assistant systems to help vehicles run more efficiently and provide a personalized driving experience. The end game: create a car that is way ahead of its competition. IBM’s Watson platform will incorporate machine learning, with an IoT component inside the car. Watson continually learns from the driver’s needs, habits and driving preferences, understanding and then adapting the driving experience to better suit the driver and passengers.

Drivers will be able to talk to their car, ask how it’s performing and the car will in turn reply. Watson vehicles will have learned the owner’s’ manual. Using natural language capabilities, Watson can understand the driver’s queries and provide the answers in a conversational style. This conversation can include anything from standard checks of recommended tire pressures to finding the handle to pop the hood. The idea here is Watson understands the car and the driving process and attempts to help you and learn from you as you drive.

I am reading Max Tegmark’s book as part of my research. I resonate with his thinking about the future of AI given my experiences with AI and related ‘smart technologies.’ I believe we need to move beyond the overly simplistic worry that that AI may be pushing some us out of the workforce. This may very well happen or not, but we are not helpless. We can encourage a more pragmatic perspective that both humans and AI need each other for success in business for decades to come. If that is the case, how do we position ourselves for gainful employment with more intelligence machines?

Let’s explore an example of AI in business, in particular sales and marketing. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, “How AI Is Streamlining Marketing and Sales” by Brad Power, some efficient applications of AI are in use now. In each case, the internal staff teamed with an AI assistant, multiplying the efficacy of the sales system.

I was recently talking with Steve Golab Senior Market Manager at Creative Alignments, in Austin about a company called InsideSales.com that has built a sales acceleration platform for predicting sales growth. InsideSales delivers a sales acceleration platform that leverages data science to help sales reps sell more and spend less time trying to figure out which accounts to spend the most time on. At the heart of the platform is a system called Neuralytics which is a big data predictive analytics system and an artificial intelligence engine that uses the industry’s largest collection of sales interaction data to help reps do their jobs better and more efficiently.

InsideSales.com is an assistant system that recommends prescriptions from Neuralytics for reps through a set of applications that run on top of their CRM. Those apps benefit from the predictive power of Neuralytics and, as reps make phone calls, send emails, and manage their forecasts, InsideSales apps automatically populate call data, email data, forecast data, etc. back into the CRM. InsideSales.com is an example of the kind of intelligent tool benefits from on-going refinement from the sales and support staff and, as a result, transforms the entire sales process to be more powerfully impactful on time management and close rates for everyone on the team.

I give presentations and talks about the importance of working with people who will be employed in the 2020-2030 decade to help them learn how to team with each other and team with machines to maximize their creativity and intelligence. It’s not an easy problem to find solutions to because it will vary widely from business to business. Dual teaming, with each other and smart machines, is what will give an employee the employment edge in the coming decade. It’s also what employers are going to stress in their hiring – people who work well in dynamic teams, always learning and always improving each other and the machines they use.

In another article, we will revisit what happened to Gary Kasparov, the reigning world chess champion who lost to an IBM supercomputer Deep Blue in a highly publicized match in 1997. He’s been thinking and observing the impacts of artificial intelligence in machines and how we partner with them to become more intelligent ourselves. I want to bring his ideas forward for everyone to benefit from in this new age of AI that is dawning upon now.

In my conversations with my adult children and seven grandchildren, I see that we need to focus on opportunities to learn with and from AI to become more who we are as humans. As AI becomes more capable, what is on offer is for us as humans to become more who we are: more compassionate, loving, insightful, intuitive, creative evolving beings. It’s not about becoming more machine-like.

When it comes to problem-solving in science, business or life, people will rise to handle the hard-to-define, difficult edge cases that machines just cannot or may never actually learn. That’s our value add. It’s not only a strategy for survival; it is our goal as humans.

For more about being human in the age of artificial intelligence, listen to this interview with MIT Physics Professor, Max Tegmark. – Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. I think his book and his interviews provide a well thought-out, down to earth perspective on our future with AI. It can be a bright one, and he suggests we begin that conversation now.

An excellent podcast interview with Max Tegmark with Sam Harris’s Waking Up podcast. Sam Harris speaks with Max Tegmark about his new book Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. They talk about the nature of intelligence, the risks of superhuman AI, a nonbiological definition of life, the substrate independence of minds, the relevance and irrelevance of consciousness for the future of AI, near-term breakthroughs in AI, and other topics. And yes I did borrow my title somewhat from Max Tegmark’s book.  So credit where credit is due. The book is both inspiring and insightful. Find a copy.

Another podcast interview with Max Tegmark is located at THINK with host Krys Boyd, from a slightly different perspective. This one is shorter with less technical depth.

Edited by Lily DOT Parish AT gmail.com

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