Stop Saying AI Can’t Replace Humans

To change your world, AI does not need to replace humans – it just needs to displace you. So stop saying that AI can’t replace humans, and start asking, “Can AI displace me?”

You Don’t Need to Be Totally Replaced by a Sentient AI System to Lose Your Job

We are not close enough to general-knowledge artificial intelligence to consider a world where such a system could completely replace a cognitive nonrepetitive (white-collar) worker. And while Hollywood and sensationalist reporting would have you believe otherwise, malevolent AI systems and sentient cyborgs should not be the subject of any serious discussion about job loss. The most probable future is far scarier.

Man/Machine Partnerships

As I recently wrote in Partner, or Die!, the best way to prepare yourself for the accelerating onslaught of AI and machine learning systems is to learn to partner with them. We are tool users; these systems are tools. Just as the steam engine amplified the power of our muscles, computers amplify the power of our brains. We can partner with machines to create competitive advantage for ourselves. But the devil is in the details.

Partial Replacement, Complete Threat

Everyone’s new, short-term goal is to form strong, competitive, awesome man/machine partnerships. But people are expensive! So the results of your man/machine partnership will have to be more productive than a partnership formed by cheaper laborers. If you’re a 50-plus-year-old auditor making over $500k annually, then a 20-something-year-old, newly minted CPA and his or her trusty AI companion are going to do your job for less than 25 percent of what you’re being paid. Guess how long management is going to let that continue?

You’ve Got It Wrong – This Is Where Experience and Wisdom Come In

Yes. This is exactly where experience and wisdom become exceptionally important. But remember, to change your world, AI does not need to replace humans – it just needs to replace you.

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Shelly Palmer is Fox 5 New York's On-air Tech Expert (WNYW-TV) and the host of Fox Television's monthly show Shelly Palmer Digital Living. He also hosts United Stations Radio Network's, ...

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