Finding Your Voice Amongst the Din of the Robots



The new year brings with it the tremendous predictions of technological advances. We are in the midst of great change. Artificial intelligence, machines that learn, algorithms that can predict the future, and automatons that can replace human jobs. It’s exciting and overwhelming at the same time. But day-to-day living marches forward. It’s amazing to think that a robot can vacuum the living room, or that my phone can translate my voice into French – but next Monday is still a work day. The same commuter traffic will be a problem, winter weather still a risk of disrupting the schedule.

How do we balance this phantasmagorical new world of intelligent machines and automation with the daily routine? How can HR professionals coach managers to adopt and incorporate machine intelligence while still working to engage human team members? How do individuals argue against “the data”? Or is that even possible – have we already handed over control to the almighty machines?

These are important questions and at the dawn of the new year, some things to consider as the pace of change will only continue to increase. Here are three points to consider:

  1. Humans are still more creative and adaptable than machines – especially across domains.
  2. Diverse teams – particularly those that respect human and machine intelligence – are more creative and productive than those without.
  3. Individuals need to find their voice and express their opinions that might refute “the data”.

In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue AI defeated then-champion Gary Kasparov at chess. However, it was 10 years before the Chinook project at University of Alberta was able to win at checkers.  Another four years after that, IBM’s Watson beat a human on the game show Jeopardy. Cross-domain knowledge is still a human strength.

We already know the research behind the value of diverse teams. Scott E. Page and others have showed why different perspectives matter, especially when it comes to creative tasks. Today, big data, machine learning and AI bring another perspective – and cloud services have known this for a while – the value of data adds tremendous insight.

That said, individuals still have the upper hand on cross-domain perspective – checkers vs. chess – and it’s critical that people find their voice – and that managers create an environment where all team members can speak out against the data. Humans have free will and often times, a gut-feel from a team member will be more accurate than reams of big data.

As we enter the new year, it’s critical for individuals to find their voice and maintain a human perspective.

Happy New Year!



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