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The “Skills” needed to succeed in an increasing AI workplace

While recent decades have been dominated by technological advancements, few developments have been as transformative as AI – especially Generative AI. Today’s AI capabilities have begun to outstrip even the most optimistic projections, raising fundamental questions about the future of work and workforce skills. As technology performs more tasks previously done by people, what does this mean in the evolving business environment ?  Which skills will ascend in importance and define success in the new landscape ?

With virtually every job eventually being affected by AI – some where AI will be complementary, but in about half of all jobs AI will cause significant disruption. With this change, many historically important “ hard ” skills and credentials becoming obsolete, and with the paradigm shift in the making, the need is to be highly competent in  –

While people who don’t adapt will have challenges, those who leverage AI will have opportunity. An example of this is from a recent study that found people who used Chat GPT 4.0 completed 12.2 % more tasks, 25.1 % faster and with 40 % greater quality over those who didn’t  – a major improvement in productivity (based on the quantity and quality of work output). And people who leverage AI by demonstrating a combination of strong creativity and critical thinking skills fare the best. This is because there is significant creativity and learning involved in asking well formed questions and designing AI prompts that result in better responses. Being good at asking questions and prompt creation require structured thinking as well as good context and being specific with a multi-step instruction process that generates hypotheses with each iteration zeroing in the objective or subject matter.

The success of an AI-generated output is directly tied to the quality, specificity, and ingenuity of the prompt it receives. A creatively crafted prompt acts as a catalyst, steering the AI towards more insightful, relevant, and nuanced responses. Conversely, a vague, poorly engineered prompt often leads to generic, off-target output. Crafting effective prompts requires an understanding of the AI’s capabilities and limitations, a clear vision of the desired outcome and a heavy dose of creativity. As AI becomes more integral in the workplace, the ability to design impactful prompts are a crucial skill that marry technology and creativity. As a result, develop a creative mind that is accomplished at “Prompt Engineering“.                                                              

To develop a creative mind that is accomplished at “ Prompt Engineering “ determine what you need to do to be good at –

  • Asking insightful questions
  • Learning fast
  • Improving through iteration
  • Collaborating with people and technology

Critical thinking must be applied to evaluate AI responses. Since not all responses will be valid, unbiased, factual, or error-free, it’s imperative to evaluate AI answers and apply logic, human reasoning, reflective thinking, rational thought, unbiased evaluation, etc. While AI can generate vast amounts of data, analyses, and potential solutions at unprecedented speed, the quality, appropriateness, veracity and applicability of generative AI’s responses need to be verified – since AI outputs are based on patterns identified from vast datasets (which may contain biases or inaccuracies).

This is where the uniquely human skill to think critically becomes indispensable. Logical reasoning enables us to dissect AI outputs, identifying potential flaws or inconsistencies. Reflective thinking encourages employees to consider the broader implications and contexts of the information presented to them. Rational thought allows us to weigh the evidence, discerning between the relevant and the extraneous. Unbiased evaluation ensures that we remain vigilant to potential biases, both from the AI and from our own preconceptions. People cannot be passive recipients of Generative AI output – but rather active evaluators, synthesizers, and decision-makers. With this, a person’s ability to critically assess, challenge, and refine AI outputs will determine the success of the human-AI collaboration.

To develop this skill –

  • How good are you at externally looking at situations ?
  • How good are you at being open minded and considering different perspectives ?
  • How good are you at challenging convention / the status quo ?
  • How good are you at being accountable for results ?

Curiosity is an innate drive to explore, understand, and seek information about the world around us. An eagerness to discover leads a person to ask questions, probe into things, challenge assumptions and delve deeper. Curiosity encourages individuals to venture outside their comfort zones and engage with unfamiliar concepts, ideas, and experiences. In the age of AI, where algorithms and machines can rapidly process and present vast amounts of data, curiosity becomes more important than ever. While AI can identify patterns, predict outcomes, and automate complex tasks – AI products typically lack context and a depth of understanding that people have. In addition, it’s important to recognize that people’s insights, understanding, values, etc. are beyond simply having knowledge by applying curiosity – the ability to question, interpret, and reimagine that knowledge. By asking “ Why ? ” or “ How ? ” curious people arrive at the kinds of novel solutions and innovative ideas that companies need to improve outcomes in the age of AI.

To develop this skill –

  • How would you respond to the items in above sections ?   …. from the “ curiosity “ perspective
  • What evidence or examples do you have to support this assessment ?
  • Is this general behavior – or – situation dependent ?  

In the age of AI, where decisions are increasingly informed or even made by algorithms – unbiased, ethical decision-making becomes paramount. AI systems operate on enormous datasets and decisions are based on patterns drawn from this data. However, the datasets that AI relies upon can mirror or amplify societal biases that can result in AI to make discriminatory or unfair judgments. When left unchecked, AI biases perpetuate inequities and even lead to new forms of discrimination. The consequences are potentially serious, from who the organization hires to who has access to a product or service. It is only the uniquely human skill with high awareness and a consciousness to better assure unbiased decision-making occurs – to be an effective guardrail against unintended consequences as well as unchecked algorithmic results or hallucinations.

Since AI decisions can cause huge issues, the ability for a person to apply ethical considerations better ensures that AI results reflect societal values, respect human rights, safeguard individual freedoms, etc. It is the uniquely human skill of ethical decision-making is an important guardrail to mitigate AI from causing harm, being invasive, or unjust.

The rise of AI, particularly Generative AI, is fundamentally altering the nature of skills deemed crucial in the workplace. The emphasis will shift towards skills that AI technology struggles to emulate, such as social skills, critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, and unbiased, ethical decision-making. The distinctly human ability to collaborate with others, lead with intellectual and emotional intelligence, and adapt to evolving environments and addressing uncertainty take center stage. And as Generative AI systems produce vast amounts of content, skills related to curating, interpreting, and contextualizing AI-sourced information are becoming very important. In essence, while AI is developing “ hard skills”, the distinctly human ability for relationship-building, innovative thinking, and unbiased, ethical decision-making are becoming highly valued – because those uniquely human attributes are the truly “ hard ” skills.

To develop this skill –

  • How good are you at elevating your thinking and expanding your scope – way outside your comfort zone ?
  • How conscious are you of societal values, including acting on the basic notions of right and wrong ?
  • How are you progressing at understanding and evolving your value system +  contributing to making the world a better place ?
  • How good are you at learning and growing from mistakes – yours and others ?
  • How good are you at getting results, creating opportunity and value ?

Even in a world of AI, many jobs will continue to require advanced social skills.  Whether it is about intellectual or emotional intelligence, listening to others in meetings, collaborating with others (in normal conditions and under pressure), self-regulation, etc. – social skills are of supreme importance. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, almost all job growth since 1980 has been in jobs that are social-skill intensive, while jobs that require minimal social interaction have been in decline. Studies have shown that the use of AI reduces the performance gap between people with different levels of aptitude and competencies. Since a meaningful gap in social skills is problematic, it’s essential to be accomplished at interpersonal communication, have high awareness, be a team player, as well as having intelligence and emotional intelligence – if the goal is to achieve personal and professional growth, expand opportunities, deliver more value, have high income potential, etc. Those who don’t have these competencies (ie: never learned how to play well with others) have a limited future – versus those with these competencies have huge upside.

To develop this skill –

  • How good are you at engaging and collaborating with others ?
  • How good are you at accommodating other considerations ?
  • How good are you at articulating your thoughts ?
  • How good are you at contributing to interesting and rewarding experiences ?

Given the importance of being highly competent in these areas, all the best in making it happen.

To explore leveraging these insights to make innovation more rewarding, please contact CAIL.

Dec 5, 2023      By Heide Abelli / CAIL            905-940-9000