Age Against the Machine

November 7, 2019

Age Against the Machine

May 29, 2023

EQ vs. AI. Is it a battle or a partnership? Is emotional intelligence valuable in a world that is increasingly reliant on machine learning? Those were the questions we faced at our AARP #DisruptAging Salon three nights ago in San Francisco. We had 20 MEA alums and several faculty members to help us find the answers.

While societal alarm bells are ringing about robots and rampaging machines, our group settled into a generally optimistic place, avoiding the typical discussions on which professions lose and which gain in an AI world, or how today’s workers will need to retrain and upskill for the onslaught of technology. And, yes, these are important issues. The World Economic Forum has suggested that 101 hours of retraining and upskilling will be necessary for all employees between 2018-2022 (especially in certain job classifications) to address this tech revolution.

But there is a missing conversation that centers on a whole collection of valuable organizational qualities that AI can’t yet address: how to process knowledge (navigate an organizational labyrinth and get things done), human-centered pattern recognition, creativity and intuition, developing a feeling for the collective consciousness of a group, or making discerning values-based judgments. As the MIT Sloan Management Review suggested recently, “Qualities that many older managers possess—being reflective, intuitive, savvy, holistic, and inclusive—are also, it’s worth noting, missing from even the most intelligent machines.”

In short, computers can only take us part of the way. As Picasso suggested fifty years ago, “Computers can only give you answers.” Perhaps, our lesson is to stop trying to beat the computers at their game. Maybe we beat them (or partner with them) by becoming better humans. Maybe the AI we need is within us: Authentic Intelligence, Ancient Intelligence, or Appreciative Inquiry, the ability to use catalytic, illuminating questions to open up possibilities.

Sixty years ago, Peter Drucker predicted the world would be run by “knowledge workers.” Now, at a time when all of the knowledge of the world is in a “magic stone” in our pockets, maybe it’s time to retire Drucker’s phrase and replace it with “wisdom workers.” In a world dominated by machines, wisdom will always be the scarcest and most valuable resource we have.

Use it well, and you will never be replaced.

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