Social Intelligence Can’t Be Automated, Part 1

In this brief series, Dan Day of TRACOM Group discusses the impact of AI on future employment and how Social Intelligence skills can help humans remain viable in a changing world. 

Social Intelligence vs. Artificial Intelligence

Your first memory of Artificial Intelligence (AI), might be when the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue beat the reigning world chess champion, Garry Kasparov in 1997.

Deep Blue was a “supercomputer,” but it was nothing compared to what IBM invented next. Figuring a human name was finally appropriate, IBM simply called it Watson.

In 2011, Watson played on the TV game show Jeopardy and beat two humans. Jeopardy is on a completely different level than chess, because the answers are not finite—they’re open-ended and very nuanced. That awakened the world to the idea of artificial intelligence. Next thing you know, we’re seeing television commercials with Watson explaining to Bob Dylan it can create new songs.

A process called “machine learning” allows software programs to analyze what artists have accomplished through the years and not only replicate them but produce original works of art. The Google Brain team used machine learning to create Magenta, an Artificial Intelligence that generates songs and drawings. Here’s an original song composed by Magenta >>

On the visual arts front, a Rutgers teacher fed 80,000 works of art from the last 500 years into a software program that creates new, original pieces of art. When evaluated against existing art (made by professional artists) the reviewer failed to determine which works of art were created by humans and which were drawn by the Rutgers software. See the image above to decide for yourself.

Nearly all the people inventing this stuff who I’ve seen interviewed say basically the same thing (I’ll paraphrase): “These inventions are not designed to replace humans, but to help us.” When pressed, they’ll typically add something like, “Well, sure, I suppose some jobs might be affected by this….”

So what does all this mean for our jobs, for our organizations? CNBC says that one million U.S. jobs are expected to disappear by 2026 and one-third of U.S. workers could be jobless by 2030, due to automation. Up until this point, many thought AI would mainly take over simple tasks like parts assembly or packing and shipping from a warehouse.

Not so.

Let’s take a look at an industry that’s decidedly white collar—the law profession. Artificial Intelligence can now predict Supreme Court decisions using the Supreme Court Database, which has information on cases dating back to 1791, to build an algorithm that predicts any justice’s vote at any time. One study said this method has an 83% accuracy rate, which is better than legal scholars.

Machines have been taking over human jobs for a long, long time, but never this fast and never before these kinds of jobs. Insert your bad lawyer joke here, but the question becomes: Will we need lawyers if Artificial Intelligence can do this work? The answer is, Yes we will—but only if those lawyers are skilled in relating to other people.

Who sways the jury? Who builds the relationship with plaintiffs, with defendants, with judges?

We’re not predicting the end of mankind, but rather pointing out that humans need to change and adapt in order to prevent getting fired by a robot!

Don’t Get Fired By a Robot

Dr. Casey Mulqueen, organizational psychologist for the TRACOM Group, says it’s clear that organizations of the future will require people with flexible mindsets and interpersonal skills so they can deal with constant change and build meaningful relationships.

“The thing about technical skills is they have a half-life; eventually they’re no longer up-to-date,” Dr. Mulqueen said. “It will take ‘social intelligence,’ which can’t be automated.“

“These are fundamental skills and, once you learn them and they become your new habits, they last a lifetime,” he said. “These skills accelerate our human capabilities and set us apart from AI.”

Next in the series– How Not to Get Fired by a Robot, and How to Break the Biases –we will introduce the essential Socially Intelligent skills humans need to remain viable in the future and present ways we can overcome natural tendencies toward biased behavior.

Read part-2 here >>

Read part-3 here >>