The power of humans: how companies will compete with humanity against AI


I was recently interviewed for an interesting article in The Guardian Brand human: why efficient automation will not always be best for business.

The main thrust of the article was about whether companies would choose to hire humans rather than use machines to win customers and improve perception of their brand. It is an interesting point, though I view it as fairly unlikely that consumers will actively shift their buying to companies that hire humans in roles that machines could do.

The point I emphasized is that it is very narrow to think of the current shifts as replacing human jobs with AI – that view is deluded and cannot create tomorrow’s companies.

Success will lie in reconfiguring work and organizations to take into account the complementary capabilities of humans and machines. But it is also about bringing out the best of people, having them truly express their unique capabilities in relationships, creativity and expertise.

Ross Dawson, founding chairman of the Advanced Human Technologies, says even in customer service, it shouldn’t be taken as a given that humans are going to do a superior job to automated processes, particularly further down the track as technology improves.

“Employing humans isn’t necessarily better – it is about ensuring those humans have the right attitude and approach to the role to make sure they add something,” he says.

As for whether employing people could become the next big thing in ethical branding, he says that depends on whether automation is rolled out in such a destructive way that communities come to resent it.

“Certainly it is a possibility in a future with massive job losses because of automation, so it depends how it is done. If we rethink our relationship with work, and if companies could instead create new roles that take advantages of combining the talents of humans and machines – the forecasts only show current roles lost, it is hard to imagine the roles of the future.”

The jobs of the future will not emerge if we simply have a focus on human replacement.

We must envisage how humans can create unique value in a world of exceptional machine capabilities, create those roles, and train people to excel in their remarkable humanity.

Image: Ed