A lot of fear and hype surrounds the topic of AI models like ChatGPT. How, and to what degree, should people embrace these tools? In this episode of the Fast Company Podcast, host Kathleen Davis chats with AI expert Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic about AI’s effects on the future of work, and society in general. He shares his experienced insights into what AI can do to streamline productivity and enhance creativity, while also warning of its pitfalls. In order to thrive with AI, Chamorro-Premuzic argues, people need to focus on upskilling the traits that make them uniquely human.
- Tools like ChatGPT have made AI accessible to all.
- Technological developments do eliminate some jobs, but they tend to create many more new ones.
- People should focus on what makes them human.
Tools like ChatGPT have made AI accessible to all.
Despite the headlines, tools like ChatGPT are just one small step in the larger, years-long arc of AI tech development. For example, AI-based applicant tracking systems that check potential hires’ résumés for desired keywords have been widespread for quite a while. What is notable is the swift, widespread way that people have embraced and put this advancement to work – thanks in no small part to the creation of user-friendly platforms for these large language models. That accessibility is indeed revelatory. It’s allowing even the least tech-savvy people to put AI to work data collecting, for example, or otherwise using the tools to streamline their work.
Technological developments do eliminate some jobs, but they tend to create many more new ones.
Some people fear that AI will take over their job entirely. Experts on the issue, such as Harvard professor Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, say that if you can’t find a way to use AI to your advantage, and it does your job faster or better than you, then you may be out of work soon. Yet, this has been the case with all technological developments throughout history. For example, people physically shopping in stores decreased because of online shopping. This change prompted companies to hire fewer in-store managers and staff. But it led to a hiring boom in cybersecurity jobs.
“With all of these things, you have to…have value to add.” (Kathleen Davis)
Innovation requires that people adopt a growth mind-set and take the initiative to reskill or upskill, but it can also help unlock humans’ untapped potential. Those who can use AI to enhance their workflow will likely find that it opens up more time to be creative and productive. For instance, students, writers and journalists can use AI to write first drafts, and then they can enhance that product with their personal touch. This way they can churn out more content with greater ease.
People should focus on what makes them human.
Even though AI has the ability to help people enhance their creativity, it can also turn them into the most boring and predictable versions of themselves. For example, people often claim to enjoy a wide variety of content. However, many mindlessly scroll through social media, responding to articles and ads preselected by algorithms, without taking any time to question or push back against what the algorithm suggests. AI thrives off of predictability, and the more predictable your behavior is, the easier it is for AI to make suggestions and trap you in a “digital cocoon” of conformity.
“So in a way, the less AI can predict you, the more interesting and fun and creative you are.” (Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic)
Counteracting AI’s negative aspects, in both your work and personal life, hinges on the deliberate choice to stay “in the driver’s seat,” rather than simply reacting to what the software produces. The more ways people find to use AI, the more they will learn about its limitations. People will begin to see what they can do better than the software – specifically, how soft skills like creativity, empathy, motivation, willpower, unpredictability and a desire to change for the better are human superpowers. AI can mimic these traits, but it can’t connect with you the way another person can.
It’s important to remember that AI is only a tool that learns what people teach it, and that it’s meant to enhance your life, not live it for you. The dystopian science fiction movies depicting terrifying futures in which AI takes over are only possible if society hands over control to it. Although, in reality, the software is nowhere near that level of capability, maintaining a firm grip on the qualities that differentiate people from robots – rather than trying to out-machine the machines – will help ensure that future won’t happen.
About the Podcast
Podcast host Kathleen Davis is a deputy editor at Fast Company. Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is the chief innovation officer at Manpower Group, co-founder of Deeper Signals and Metaprofiling, and professor of business psychology at both University College London and Columbia University.