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Embracing AI: Navigating the Future with Confidence and Adaptability

Chillax Mr. Little; the sky is not falling.


We live in an era where headlines often proclaim Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a harbinger of job losses and societal upheaval. AI is a transformative tool that can enhance human potential and I, for one, will embrace, adapt and evolve to make the best possible business decisions, with AI as an intrinsic element of the business.


History repeats

The rise of AI has jump-started a cycle to which we are too close to clearly see: new technology is introduced, panic ensues, the technology is adopted, and it becomes part of our daily lives. For those that ever coded in BASIC, this part of history is a “20 GOTO 10” program line. In simpler words: “wash, rinse, repeat”.


We don’t have to go as far back as the wheel’s invention causing a momentary panic amongst the original nomad haulers, but I’m sure it happened. In the late 1990s, roughnecks in the Oil and Gas industry were up in arms when top-drives and pipe-racker robots were going to put them all out of work in the oilfields. Since the smartphone was introduced, we’ve seen a migration from watching movies in theaters to watching the same movies, streamed and consumed via smartphone, and on demand. (Covid and ridiculous pop-corn prices aside)


Haulers became carriage operators. Roughnecks were re-trained and became robot operators. Movie studios and actors refocused their movie delivery plans. And yet here we are, still using a strong back when needed, manual labor in the oil field, and making large screen movies.


Technology innovations revolutionize industry, and will displace some members of the workforce. There is no need to soft-pedal this truth. However, nowhere in that statement does it say “all” or “out of”, and that is because the innovations are not by themselves what may force someone to leave the workforce. Being displaced is also a function of the individual’s ability, willingness and available resources to act on an inevitable need – if one doesn’t continue to improve their professional skills, “one” becomes obsolete.


Technology has consistently been a net creator of jobs and opportunities, despite short-term disruptions.

 

AI generated image of a man looking a pieces of sky floating in balloons.
AI is not making the sky fall. it is expanding our horizon.

If we think of the wheel, top-drives, pipe-rackers, the smartphone, and AI as “augmenters of human capabilities” vs “replacers of humans” we are closer to the truth, and to what can be.


  • AI can analyze medical data faster than human doctors, leading to quicker diagnosis and personalized treatment plans, while doctors focus on patient care.

  • AI in finance can detect fraudulent activities with higher accuracy, while finance professionals concentrate on strategic decision-making.

  • AI has saved 3PL companies millions of dollars and reduced waste in the world of logistics by finding better routes and plans, whilst operations professionals focus on running the warehouses.


If we learn to use technology to our advantage vs. fighting it we remain relevant and short circuit between initial panic and optimized productivity.


Learn to use AI and become even more relevant.

I am continuously surprised and amazed at most people’s initial reaction to observing AI at work. The line between awe and panic becomes razor thin in a breath, and oftentimes leaves some with a palpable sense of redundancy. I know I’ve said aloud “what did just happen?”


The key to remaining indispensable in a workforce permeated by AI is thus, to start and sustain a plan to learn and master new business skills that complement and leverage AI technologies.


If you are wondering where to start:

  • Do a personal skills gap analysis, and evaluate your current skills set against those needed to thrive in an AI-enhanced job market.

  • Research what AI-related skills are on demand in your professional field and those adjacent to it. AI will not be used in a vacuum, and the more you understand how your customers and business partners will use AI, the better off you’ll be.

  • Create a roadmap for your educational journey.

  • Consider a securing professional coach through work or on your own. If you are serious about your career as a Division I or Olympic athlete is about their goals, you should have one.


This proactive approach ensures that you remain competitive and capable, turning the advent of AI into a catalyst for personal and professional growth rather than a threat to job security.


It is important to note that subtle word “sustain” in the recommendation above. The training plan is not a “one and done”, and be advised – it is likely to have substantial and frequent revisions.


Embrace change.

The only constant in life is change, and this is especially true in the modern workplace. With the advent of AI, many of our routine tasks are being automated, leading to significant shifts in job roles and industry practices. Instead of resisting these changes, it is beneficial to embrace them and view them as opportunities for personal and professional development.


If you have a Service Veteran in your team, ask them to explain the phrase “embrace the…” (the OG’s will fill in the ellipsis for you). Changes brought about technology developments are largely out of our personal control, but when we figure out how to harness the power of new technologies like AI, we get ourselves, and more importantly our teams, ahead.


Rather than dread and nervousness, we should focus on developing teams with adaptability skills, so that our businesses remain flexible, problem-solve effectively, and maintain creativity in the face of new technologies like AI. These skills are not innate; they can be learned and honed over time. They include being open to new ideas, being able to work with diverse teams, being comfortable with trial and error, and being resourceful in finding solutions.


Building a change-positive culture is not just an individual responsibility; it's also a collective one. Organizations that encourage innovation, foster a culture of continuous learning, and create an environment where experimentation is welcomed, are better equipped to thrive in the AI era. Such a culture not only supports the organization's growth but also empowers each individual within it to embrace change and not a safety blanket.


Darwin – yes, he was right.

Darwin's seminal work, "On the Origin of Species," introduced the concept of natural selection, where organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. The "fittest" in Darwinian terms refers to those most suited to prevailing conditions, not necessarily the strongest or smartest. This principle can be aptly applied to the rapidly evolving technological landscape dominated by AI.


In the context of AI and the job market, "survival of the fittest" translates to those individuals and organizations that are most adaptable, continuously learning, and willing to innovate. As AI reshapes industries, certain job roles may become obsolete, while new roles are created. The evolution of job roles doesn't signify an end but rather a transformation that requires workers to adapt their skills and mindset.


The first step in adapting to AI is understanding its capabilities and limitations. By being informed, individuals can more accurately predict how their industry may change and prepare accordingly. This might involve pursuing further education in AI-related fields, such as machine learning, data science, or AI ethics.


In addition to formal education, cultivating a "tinkerer's mindset"—one that is curious, experimental, and unafraid of trial and error—can be invaluable. Just as species adapt over time through mutations and variations, professionals can innovate in their approaches to work by adopting new technologies and practices that enhance their roles.


Just the beginning…

The sky is not falling, but the horizon is expanding, and very quickly. As AI continues to evolve, so too should we. By staying informed, proactive, and resilient, we can navigate the future with confidence and play an active role in shaping a world where technology and humanity enhance each other.


For the record and in full disclosure, some of the work here is mine and some of it inspired by AI. I am also learning to adapt, and navigating carefully to ensure that the sky does not break and fall, while we fly through it to operate in what should be a better business world.

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