Staying relevant in a machine-run world
At Naked, we’re all about technology and innovation and how they can make your life better. We believe that AI has the power to personalise insurance like never before, becoming a super-smart ally for a close-to-perfect insurance experience. Hooray for the future!
We’re already experiencing AI in our everyday lives. Platforms such as Google, Facebook and multiple other social media platforms are using AI to predict what we want to see and when we want to see it. This increases their engagement and ultimately ups their own marketing strategies, whether we know it or not. No harm though, right? It may seem like a better online experience for us as individuals, but the rise of AI and automation is and will continue to impact the industries we work with and work in.
AI doesn’t just have the power to revolutionise the insurance industry. Almost every field of work may soon have super-smart AI doing super-smart things. Wait a minute - smart is good! But smart enough to do our jobs better than us? That’s a thought that gets most of us sweating a little bit.
But the question is, is it reasonable to be anxious about the machines coming for our jobs? And if so, what can we do about it?
As insurers, we can future-proof part of your life by protecting the value of your possessions. But how do you future-proof your career in the face of such massive technological change?
Could AI do your job?
First, let’s look at the global job market’s risk profile.
In 2015, a report by the McKinsey Global Institute suggested that 30 percent of the world’s jobs could be automated by 2030. According to the McKinsey Institute, the displaced human worker, numbering about 800 million, will have to find alternative jobs – perhaps faster than they can reskill themselves.
The stock market is already full of algorithms trading with other algorithms, processing more data in a single second than a human can in a year. Some traders in the US have already filed lawsuits against algorithmic trading, arguing that it discriminates against humans, who simply cannot react fast enough to compete.
As it turns out, the very lawyers that these traders turn to might also be in trouble. It was recently announced that AI can outperform lawyers in reviewing legal documents. According to leading AI contract review platform, LawGeex, AI won hands-down against human lawyers in the task of reviewing non-disclosure agreements and accurately spotting risks in legal documentation. While humans could keep up in terms of accuracy, they simply couldn’t keep up in terms of speed. The average human took 92 minutes to finish reviewing the contracts. The AI, on the other hand, took only 26 seconds. Objection, anyone?
Similarly, in the medical field, it was recently announced that AI can diagnose heart disease and lung cancer more accurately than doctors, which is great for patients, but for doctors? Not so much. Even in creative fields, AI musical composers have tricked audiences into thinking they’re human. Through apps and other easy-to-use tools, AI may fast becoming the next big thing in making pop music, thanks to its ability to sift through and learn from millions of songs, looking for patterns, suggesting new notes and building composer’s tunes into music.
The benefit of being human
So while you’re going to have to deal with a lot of risk and change in the future, you have one major guarantee; an asset that you’ve been refining your entire life, without even trying, while the machines haven’t: being human. While the future might be full of jobs that haven’t been created yet, most AI researchers agree that there’s one area that you can start working on in the face of AI – refining your uniquely human skills like empathy and communication.
It makes sense if you think about it. Just as trying to keep up with AI in AI dominated areas is a losing battle, AI probably won’t be able to compete with humans at being human when it comes to empathy and understanding any time soon. This is because while you’re very likely to put your life in the hands of a machine when you require hard facts and figures, you’re unlikely to pour out your heart to a computer, unless, of course, you intend on hitting the send button and sharing it with another human.
Best-selling author and speaker on business, technology and big data Bernard Marr, reckons that some of the safest jobs are in the hands of caregivers, therapists and primary care physicians. Although AI is fast becoming more competent in diagnosing diseases, they’re not even close to providing the care that patients need. As Marr puts it, “While AI is being used in medical applications to do things like more accurately detect diseases on a scan, I certainly wouldn't want to get a robocall to break the news that I have cancer.”
Some theorists, like Dr Kai-Fu Lee, former president of Google China, believe that AI might just be the push we’ve been needing as a society to make ourselves more community-minded. He argues that “If handled with care and foresight, this AI crisis could present an opportunity for us to redirect our energy as a society to more human pursuits: to taking care of each other and our communities.” He continues, “We should use the economic bounty generated by AI to double down on what separates us from machines: human empathy.” Lee envisions a world where greater demand creates better salaries for sectors such as care work, community service and education.
If this kind of reform results from AI, that’s great news for people like teachers and nurses – who, let’s face it, have long been in need of a status and financial boost. The problem is, we can’t all be caregivers. While some of us were quite happy to paint granny’s toenails, most of us weren’t. Where does that leave us?
Invest in your soft skills
It might sound overly simple, but it might be about adding a set of soft skills to your existing hard skills. What kind of soft skills? Well, let’s look at Google as an example. Google initially only hired highly specialised computer scientists. However, last year, the company revealed the seven top characteristics of its most successful employees. These were all soft skills, identified by Google as “coaching, listening well, making connections with others to solve complex problems.” Interestingly, the ability to solve complex problems is still part of the list of requirements, but it needs to be paired with softer skills such as making connections with others.
Revolutions have the ability to get us nervous, but previous revolutions haven’t left us too worried. The Industrial Revolution and the Computer Revolution had similar impacts on the working world: the changing of one job type for another. But while the AI revolution will undoubtedly create new and exciting forms of work, the sheer number of jobs that are likely to be replaced instead of repurposed is staggering.
So while we certainly don’t know what AI will demand from us skill-wise in future, investing in your soft-skills seems to be a safe bet for now. Plus, spending a few extra minutes helping that lost-looking newbie find his way around office protocol on his first day isn’t going to hurt anybody’s karma, right?