Are you confused by the rapid advances in artificial intelligence? Are you worried that you’ll be left behind by the smart machines taking over the world? Do you wonder whether humanity is strong enough to cope with the challenges of the 21st century? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should continue reading! If you answered no, you’re probably a liar or a robot (or maybe both). In this blog, I will introduce you to the most important weapons we humans can wield to protect ourselves against the risks we can expect with the rise of artificial intelligence.

AI will undoubtedly present both risks and opportunities across various domains and a number of ways. But then why is that? As Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman explained it in Good Omens (one of my all-time favorite books): 

"Evil in general does not sleep, and therefore doesn't see why anyone else should. [...] But the universe has a healthy sense of humor, and the forces of Good usually find a way to cheat as well. In the end, it's all down to human beings. Which is, of course, a terrifying thought."

That’s why I’ll give you some tips on what you could do to keep up with the AI revolution and stay relevant in the future. No guarantees it’ll be a success, though.

The risks and opportunities of AI

As you probably know, AI is a broad term that encompasses many different technologies, including: 

  • Machine learning 
  • Natural language processing 
  • Computer vision 
  • Robotics

These technologies (like any invention we humans come up with) can be used for good or evil, depending on who's using them.

Good AI

For example, it can be used to improve education by providing personalized learning experiences, adaptive feedback, and intelligent tutoring systems. In healthcare, it can aid in diagnosing diseases, recommending treatments, and monitoring vital signs. Sounds great, right? 

Bad AI

Unfortunately, it can also be used to manipulate emotions, preferences, and beliefs by using persuasive techniques, fake news, and video deep fakes. It can also pose a threat to our health by creating bioweapons, hacking medical devices, and stealing personal data. 

It’s all fun and games until things take a sudden turn. Our modern societyis built heavily on trust, and when anyone can fabricate a video that depicts you saying and doing things you’ve never actually done, it begs the question: who and what can you trust anymore?

How we ensure good AI comes out on top?

It all boils down to the need to start paying attention. Whether you like it or not, the repercussions of Bad AI is already happening, and soon you’ll be part of it. 

It’s not just someone else’s responsibility to figure out ethical guidelines, legal regulations, and social norms that govern the development and use of AI. We all need to have human oversight and involvement in every aspect of AI decision-making. We can’t just let AI run wild without human supervision and control, as we all know what happens when we do. 

Just like the plot to any sci-fi movie ever, right?

Your human values are irreplaceable

On top of all these ethical considerations, there’s yet another challenge you have to keep in mind: how do you keep up with the AI revolution and stay relevant in the future? When AI does our work more effectively and efficiently, how do we cope with that?

This is where “humans are still essentially humans” comes in. 

Humans aren’t evolving as fast as the world is, thanks to our new innovations. As humans, we still have the same basic needs, desires, emotions, and values we had thousands of years ago. We still want to love and be loved, learn and grow, create and express ourselves, and belong and contribute. In the end, we all still have our strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices, hopes and fears. 

With all of these things in mind, we’re now currently also the consumers, end users, and targets for everything that AI creates.

Discussing humans as being highly emotional creatures may be uncomfortable to many, as the industrial revolution made us want to think of humans as simply parts of a machine. Emotional considerations were just as unwelcome as a rat in the factory. After all, feelings were just a sticky wrench thrown into the finely tuned clockwork.

But it’ll be these traits of humanity that give us an edge over AI. Because at the end of the day, AI cannot replicate or replace these essential human qualities. So let’s see how we can weaponize these traits.

Agility, emotional intelligence, and perpetual learning: our secret weapons

In the face of the AI revolution, it’s the Agile mindset that will help us stay relevant and indispensable. We're not talking about post-its and stand-ups here, but rather the way of being and thought that puts value on individuals and interactions over processes and tools. 

Emotional intelligence—that warm fuzzy stuff computers can't quite grasp.
Critical thinking and problem-solving—the beautiful chaos of the human mind that AI can’t mimic.
We also shouldn’t forget the magic of human communication, collaboration, and connection. 

These aren't just nice-to-haves, they're our secret weapons in a world increasingly run by ones and zeros. That’s why we need to become perpetual learners, embracing the iterative process of try, fail, learn, repeat. With an Agile mindset, we see failure not as a dead end, but as a stepping stone. We learn, we adapt, we improve. The goal isn’t to be perfect, but to be better than we were yesterday. 

If reading about all this “human stuff” feels a bit awkward for you right now, and you find yourself feeling uncomfortable, remember that recognizing these aspects and their importance is the first step. Rest assured, there are plenty of people out there who can help you navigate this landscape.

Or we could always just give up and let AI take over. (Just kidding! Don't do that.) 

The human touch in the age of AI

Using AI has both risks and possibilities, and we need to be aware of both sides of the coin and act accordingly.

Again, I’ll quote Good Omens here: 

"It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."

It’s really up to us and our ambiguous nature to determine which one will become the truth. Now to answer the question of whether I got a bit of AI assistance with this blog post: 

Yes. Let me spill the beans on how: 

  • After familiarizing myself with the topic and deciding on what I wished to convey, I had a chat with my digital partners, Bing and ChatGPT. 
  • I provided them with the tone, themes, and a couple of nuggets of ideas to chew on. What came back served as a starting point. 
  • I integrated their suggestions with my own thoughts, hunted down a couple of quotes, sprinkled a dash of “me” around, and voila!

So did AI write this blog? No. It just lent me a helping hand, and that's how AI should be: a tool to serve, not the hand that wields it.

I also wanted to quickly add that this way of building upon existing ideas is precisely how humans have been progressing all along. Chances are, you're not as original in your thinking as you'd like to believe.

What matters most is that you're doing things your way.

Published: July 26, 2023

Software developmentAgileProduct management