Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

How to Future-Proof Your Business Career Against AI Disruption


It was inevitable…

According to Bloomberg, IBM expects to pause hiring for roles as roughly 7,800 jobs could be replaced by #AI.

IBM’s Chief Executive Officer Arvind Krishna said back-office functions, such as human resources, will be suspended or slowed.

“These non-customer-facing roles amount to roughly 26,000 workers,” Krishna said. “I could easily see 30% of that getting replaced by AI and automation over a five-year period.”

This is the first of many announcements as organizations rethink work, resources, and technology as automation rapidly evolves.

On May 2nd, EDtech leader Chegg signaled the rising popularity of ChatGPT was dramatically hindering its student subscriber growth when it suspended its full-year outlook. This move sent shares of the company 47% lower in early trading.

“Since March, we saw a significant spike in student interest in ChatGPT. We now believe it’s having an impact on our new customer growth rate,” said Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig.

Universities, Schools, L&D and HR leaders, Business Leaders, Employers, it’s time to CTRL-ALT-DEL our pre-2022 learning models to prepare for 2050 and beyond, right now.

At the same time, this is exactly the right moment to reflect on your own career path. and choose the role you want to play in a future that, quite honestly, most people didn’t foresee or plan for. I’ve always believed that disruption happens to you or because of you.

When it’s a choice, you have have much more power to shape outcomes and the future to your benefit than you may realize.

My dear friend and former colleague Jeremiah Owyang is one of the world’s leading thinkers on AI and even he’s standing at these crossroads contemplating his next steps.

“If you’re waiting for someone to tell you what to do, you’re on the wrong side of innovation.”

There are so many leaders who are standing along-side him at this intersection of “the future we thought we were working toward” and “what’s the actual future (WTAF)?”

It’s here where I tried to develop an image using DALL·E 2 and Microsoft Bing Image Creator powered by DALL·E 2 among others. I have to say that generally, visual AI prompting is an art in of itself (pun intended). For example, because the AI engine as of now distorts human depictions (is that intentional? jk!), suggestions for prompts mention placing people in the background. Here is a link to helpful tips for generative image creation.

Standing at the Intersection of “Past Future” and “What’s the Actual Future (WTAF) – Microsoft Bing Image Creator powered by DALL·E 2 + Canva

The Future is Yours to Shape

You are not alone. And more importantly, you’re not powerless. We all have to figure this out as individuals, as teams and colleagues, as students and teachers, and as human beings. Make one of your side hustles understanding how AI augments your unique value proposition.

Right now, tthere are many incredible voices thinking out loud, studying and experimenting, building, and helping others to create their own destiny in an era of infinite uncertainty. Follow them. Interact with them. Learn from and with them.

  • Allie K. Miller – Link
  • Brian Roemmele – Link
  • Benedict Evans – Link
  • Robert Scoble (Scobleizer) – Link
  • Jeremiah Owyang – Link
  • Conor Brennan – Link
  • Ben Parr – Link
  • Andrew NG – Link
  • Yann LeCun – Link
  • Fei-Fei Li – Link
  • Geoffrey Hinton – Link
  • Nando de Freitas – Link
  • Kate Crawford – Link

Who am I missing? Let’s update this list…

A Conversation with Professor GPT on the Future Skills Necessary for Evolving Skills and Roles with AI

To help us get started, I (half-seriously) consulted with an industry leading resource on the matter, Professor #GPT for advice on what we can do. Here’s part 1 of our unabridged conversation.

Solis: You are an empathetic futurist who believes ChatGPT and generative AI will eventually take more and more jobs away from people. You have now been hired as a professor at Yale University to teach the first ever course in AI-proofing careers for business professionals. What would the curriculum of the 101 course include?

Prof GPT: As an empathetic futurist who recognizes the potential impact of AI on the workforce, I would design the curriculum of the “AI-Proofing Careers for Business Professionals” course to help individuals prepare for the changing landscape of work.

The course would cover the following topics:

Introduction to AI and its impact on the workforce: This section would provide an overview of what AI is, its various applications, and how it is impacting different industries and jobs. It would also cover the potential benefits and challenges associated with AI, including the displacement of jobs.

Identifying AI-vulnerable careers: This section would help individuals identify the types of jobs that are most vulnerable to automation and displacement by AI. We would discuss various factors that make a job more or less likely to be automated, such as the level of routine involved, the amount of human interaction required, and the degree of creativity or problem-solving involved.

Analyzing skill sets and identifying transferable skills: In this section, we would help individuals analyze their current skill sets and identify transferable skills that can be applied to different careers or industries. We would also discuss the importance of lifelong learning and how to acquire new skills to stay relevant in a rapidly changing job market.

Entrepreneurship and new opportunities: This section would explore the potential for entrepreneurship and starting new businesses that leverage AI and other emerging technologies. We would discuss the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, the benefits and challenges of starting a business, and how to identify new business opportunities.

Ethics and responsibility: Finally, we would discuss the ethical and social responsibilities associated with AI and automation. We would explore questions such as how to ensure that AI is used for the greater good, how to address issues of bias and discrimination, and how to mitigate the negative impacts of AI on vulnerable populations.

Overall, the course would aim to provide business professionals with a comprehensive understanding of the impact of AI on the workforce, equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to adapt to the changing job market, and encourage them to think critically and ethically about the role of AI in society.

Solis: Now let’s talk about the next course, 102 to build on 101. What skills would you encourage students to learn to outpace AI evolution and job cuts?

Prof GPT: In the “AI-Proofing Careers for Business Professionals 102” course, we would focus on building skills and competencies that are less vulnerable to automation and can help individuals outpace AI evolution and job cuts. Here are some of the skills and competencies we would encourage students to learn:

Creative and critical thinking: AI can be very good at executing routine tasks, but it is still not as good as humans when it comes to creativity and critical thinking. We would encourage students to develop their creative and critical thinking skills through exercises, case studies, and other activities.

Emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills: Jobs that require a high level of emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills, such as healthcare, education, and social work, are less likely to be automated. We would encourage students to develop these skills through role-playing, simulations, and other activities.

Data analysis and interpretation: AI is very good at processing and analyzing large amounts of data, but it still requires human input to interpret and make sense of the data. We would encourage students to develop their data analysis and interpretation skills, including the ability to identify patterns and insights, and communicate their findings to others.

Adaptability and flexibility: With the rapid pace of technological change, it is important for individuals to be adaptable and flexible in their careers. We would encourage students to develop these skills through exposure to different industries and job functions, as well as through exercises that require them to adapt to changing situations and environments.

Leadership and management: While AI can be very good at executing routine tasks, it still requires human leadership and management to guide its use and application. We would encourage students to develop their leadership and management skills, including the ability to motivate and inspire others, and make strategic decisions.

Overall, the focus of the “AI-Proofing Careers for Business Professionals 102” course would be on building skills and competencies that are less vulnerable to automation and can help individuals stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing job market.

The Next Steps We Take as a Human Race are Profound

Depending on your perspective, the IBM news is either a canary in a coal mine or business as usual or click bait.

Whether the IBM or Chegg news are harbingers of what’s to come or sensationalized to spark fear, the reality is that decision-makers and leaders may not know the difference. They may take these stories and explore ways to follow suit.

The simple answer for now, is that it’s complicated.

If anything, this is a time to reflect.

“If you think technology will solve your problems, you don’t understand technology — and you don’t understand your problems.” – Laurie Anderson, 2020

I see the cascading AI events unfolding around us as a catalyst for conversations we should be having anyway.

Let’s find opportunities to reframe the narrative, to take control of how we respond to disruption and digital Darwinism.

“Digital Darwinism is the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than some companies’ ability to adapt. The point of natural selection is that only some businesses will survive.” – Washington Post

Start with different questions and let’s build forward.

For example, it’s a given that executives are going to ask which jobs can be replaced by AI.

Another question to ask would be, how can we keep people in their roles and give them AI tools to gain an X factor of productivity, output, or value add?

My friend Brian Roemmele offered as much to IBM via Twitter.

The stunning and ironic here is IBM could be the company that leads the world showing the force-multiplier AI is. IBM, I will offer for FREE, to show you how to keep these jobs and have 7x more power. A real offer.

This is the difference between a fixed and growth mindset.

In a time when executives see AI through a lens of cost-cutting, it will be those with a beginner’s mind who see AI as a strategic advantage over the status quo. While they replace people with AI, the winners will augment employees and roles with artificial intelligence to outperform everyone else.

It’s the same mentality as battening down the hatches during economic storms. Cutting costs also costs the business, usually at the expense of product quality, delayed innovation, and customer and employee experiences. Each carry a notable opportunity cost that trades short-term profitability with longer-term mind- and market-share.

Leaders who are creative, curious, bold, and courageous, take action to seize the opportunities that others are willing to sacrifice.

If don’t invest in the short-term, you’ll lose ground in the mid-term, and eventually, you’ll lose in the long-term.

Don’t confuse cuts with gains.

Legendary Apple design chief and founder of LoveFrom design studio, Jony Ive, was once asked for advice by Airbnb Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky as the company faced economic uncertainty.

“You aren’t going to cut your way to innovation,” Ive told Chesky at the time.

Start with exploring the role of human beings in a world augmented by artificial intelligence. Let’s explore the potential jobs of the future and the skills necessary to thrive alongside AI.

For example, The World Economic Forum recently published a seminal report that finds a “Reskilling Revolution” is upon us. It’s research and conversations like this that help us make sense of what’s happening, where we are going, and the role we can play in the future.

The more advanced technology becomes, the greater the importance of critical human skills (aka soft skills) becomes in our work, such as creativity, empathy, critical and analytical thinking, and resilience.

The conversation with “Professor GPT” is intended to get the conversation started at a human level, at our level.

Every revolution brings about disruption. Every revolution brings about new opportunities and creative destruction (out with the old and in with the new). Every revolution can also represent an opportunity to grow and thrive in unforeseen ways.

There’s a saying that can’t help but think of in these times, “life isn’t happening to you, it’s happening for you.”

The gap between where we are and where we can be is only separated by what we unlearn, learn, and do differently moving forward.

20 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “How to Future-Proof Your Business Career Against AI Disruption”

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    I thought the article was brilliant, and provided a great overview of things to come. Thanks @Brian Solis. This is getting spicy and exciting.

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