In the AI Age, “Being Smart” Will Mean Something Completely Different

Executive Summary

To date, many of us have achieved success by being “smarter” than other people as measured by grades and test scores, beginning from our early days in school. The smart people were those that received the highest scores by making the fewest mistakes.

AI will change that because there is no way any human being can outsmart, for example, IBM’s Watson, at least without augmentation. What is needed is a new definition of “being smart,” one that promotes higher levels of human thinking and emotional engagement.

Andrew Ng has likened artificial intelligence (AI) to electricity in that it will be as transformative for us as electricity was for our ancestors. I can only guess that electricity was mystifying, scary, and even shocking to them — just as AI will be to many of us. Credible scientists and research firms have predicted that the likely automation of service sectors and professional jobs in the United States will be more than 10 times as large as the number of manufacturing jobs automated to date. That possibility is mind-boggling.

So, what can we do to prepare for the new world of work? Because AI will be a far more formidable competitor than any human, we will be in a frantic race to stay relevant. That will require us to take our cognitive and emotional skills to a much higher level.

Insight Center

Many experts believe that human beings will still be needed to do the jobs that require higher-order critical, creative, and innovative thinking and the jobs that require high emotional engagement to meet the needs of other human beings. The challenge for many of us is that we do not excel at those skills because of our natural cognitive and emotional proclivities: We are confirmation-seeking thinkers and ego-affirmation-seeking defensive reasoners. We will need to overcome those proclivities in order to take our thinking, listening, relating, and collaborating skills to a much higher level.

I believe…

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