How will humans add value?

Given all the technological advancements where robots and technology are able to take over many jobs done by humans, the big question is – how will humans add value?  This is a question that many of us now carry – and on tv, we see it in the recent series, AMC’s “Humans”. In the early part of the show, a teenager wonders out loud if there was any point to go to college and train as a neurosurgeon, when an advanced android could be programmed with these skills. Is this a death of human expertise? It is unsurprising to be uneasy.

It is difficult to say with certainty that the current limitations of technology would remain a limitation in the coming years, given that time and again, the obstacles are overcome and we are surprised by its capabilities. However, there are probably still some instances where humans can continue to “add value” – definitively or out of pure perception.

1. Need for human accountability, where it is necessary that people need to be held responsible for the decisions made. For instance, government leaders, CEOs and judges – where important decisions need to be made.

2. Goal setting – as objectives change, and problem settings are also subject to changes and what we believe to be important, these are likely to remain “human” roles.

3. Where there is a need for empathy and human touch, satisfying inter-personal needs. Whilst a robot nurse may be able to carry out the tasks technically efficiently, the kindly looks and smile of a human nurse and the warmth it would bring to a sick person could not be easily replaced by a robot. A differentiated customer experience also requires a passionate and keen eye for detail.

What does this mean for our children and education?  In the education arena, deep-skilling is commonly picked up in school at the tertiary level. This carries on into the workplace where we learn on-the-job. Soft skills, on the other hand, will require constant interaction with others, to be sharpened and are not straight-forward to teach or learn but rather come from keen observation. Valuable soft skills will include empathising, collaborating, creating, leading and building relationships. Perhaps a simple first step we can start with now is to  “put ourselves in the shoes of others”.


Credits pic: Scott Adams, Dilbert

Credits article:

Humans are underrated


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