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14 Nov 2019

Dr. Nada Sanders Explains Why Human Workers Have Nothing to Fear From AI

Forget your worries about the rise of AI, robotics, blockchains, IoT and other technologies “botsourcing” our jobs. Instead, get ready for a golden age when humans are empowered to flourish, emotional connections are paramount, and authenticity is essential. According to Dr. Nada Sanders, futurist, AI expert, keynote speaker and distinguished professor at Northeastern’s D’Amore McKim School of Business, we are at the dawn of the Human Era. In the Human Era, machines are just tools doing automated, repetitive, and standardized tasks. Our uniquely human qualities will reign supreme, advancing our enterprises, society and economy. 

In her highly praised book, The Humachine: Humankind, Machines and the Future of Enterprise, and as a keynote speaker, Dr. Sanders provides an illuminating look ahead at a people-focused future empowered by AI and other technologies. 

APB asked Dr. Sanders some key questions about the future of work in the Human Era. 

APB: What will give us humans the edge in this rapidly transforming world? 

Dr. Nada Sanders: Our uniquely human qualities such as creativity, innovation, adaptability, empathy, integrity and imagination will not only rule the day, they will be empowered and enhanced by technology. Afterall, machines will never fix bad processes, poor management practices or failing employee morale. Innovation, strategy and connections with co-workers and customers will never be taken over by machines.  

APB: Are there ways that we can “robot-proof” our careers and protect our jobs from “botsourcing”?  

Dr. Nada Sanders: There’s no doubt that machines are taking jobs. It started slowly with teller machines and ATMs. Now it’s driverless cars, drones delivering packages, automated personal assistants and so on. Familiar jobs are going away, but new versions of old jobs are quickly evolving. The secrets to success are lifelong learning and perfecting uniquely human advantages that may have atrophied during decades of emphasis on purely technical skills. Abilities like communication, emotional intelligence, creative problem solving and critical thinking will become even more valuable. These competencies will be universally in demand and transferable across professions and industries. Because workers can expect to have several careers and professions in their lifetimes, what makes us human will also make us more employable. Lifelong learning and professional development will also become the norm. We can no longer just get one degree. Re-skilling and up-skilling will be a constant expectation. 

APB: Your book, The Humachine has been called one of the definitive works on the integration of humans and machines in the workforce. What can organizations and leaders do to succeed in this new Human Era?  

Dr. Nada Sanders: In what I call the Human Era, we’ll combine the best of what humans have to offer, such as creativity and innovation with the mechanical efficiency of machines—driving things like big data processing, economies of scale and AI. In this new enterprise form, humans and machines work side by side, creating innovative market solutions. For companies, success will be less about technology and more about having the right people, talent and leadership in place. It’s about creating a culture of creativity and agility that trusts algorithms and AI and is closely connected to the C-Suite. Companies need to invest less in their technology and more in re-skilling, up-skilling and having the right leadership in place in order to stay ahead of the curve and their competition.

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