By Paul Yung

Artificial Intelligence has been gaining even more headlines lately. From the rise of ChatGPT, today there are hundreds if not thousands of generative AI applications that work like Jarvis. From slide presentations (Slides AI) to cinematic like videos (Sora), I struggle to keep up with the applications of the countless types of AI into almost every aspects of work and life.

With NVIDIA, the company making the most advanced chips, systems, and software for the AI factories announcing in their latest keynote their most advanced chip set for “trillion parameter generative AI”, there is no doubt that even more awe-inspiring generative AI applications will be rolled out at neck breaking pace in the near future.

This puts into question, what of us humans? What would our role in the future be?

Gitnux estimates that 75 million jobs were displaced by AI in 2022, and up to 800 million jobs worldwide by 2030. The world will change, but the question is, what won’t?

What can we do that AI cannot replace?

I am no AI expert, but this is my take. AI will not be able to overtake human empathy, relevance, and trust. There are numerous studies “high reliability theory” or “high reliability organizing” (HRO). Let me explain with a story; basic autopilot systems have existed for over a century, with early autopilot systems first introduced in 1910. Later, autopilot systems evolved to be able to maintain a steady course and altitude, auto-throttle, navigational route following, and the ability to perform complex manoeuvres such as take-offs and landings under certain conditions. Today’s autopilot systems are highly sophisticated, using a combination of sensors, computers, and algorithms to control the aircraft across multiple phases of flight, significantly reducing the pilots’ manual workload and enhancing flight safety.

So, if autopilot systems were so sophisticated, why would we need human pilots?

For a start, all these sophisticated systems were put in place to assist not replace a human pilot. Under routine circumstances, the pilot’s manual workload is reduced thanks to standard procedures programmed into the system. However, when things aren’t going according to plan, i.e. when unexpected events or emergencies happen, that’s when expert human intervention is, and in my opinion, always will be, required to address the situation effectively. This is the principle behind high reliability theory.

When the stakes are high, our human instincts to make the right decision given the circumstances, will almost always be better than a decision made by an AI. Studies have shown this to be true in aviation, healthcare, the military, space exploration, the oil and gas industry and emergency services.

What is it about human instinct that makes our decision unique from an algorithm?

Empathy, relevance, and trust. We empathise with other human beings, we bring relevance to the context and situations at hand, and the trust and human connection that we build with other humans are difficult, if not impossible to replicate.

In my experience, this is especially true in sales. Mckinsey & Co. stated that functional sales will grow in importance in the future. Meaning, even after many sales processes have been automated, the human touch is what will make the difference from whom and what we buy from.

We are more likely to make a purchase decision if someone we know and trust recommended it to us, then if we read up on a similar but different product online. We want to see reviews of restaurants from other human diners. Our humanity is what makes us human. Let’s embrace the AI technologies to come, and stay rooted to our principles of humanity and build human connections more than artificial ones.

To all who celebrate, wishing you a Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. May this Hari Raya bring joy and blessings to you and your family.

Happy April everyone