3 Ways to Defeat the Plot to Overthrow Humanity

It’s true. Machines are taking over the world — but not in the way you might think.

You soon will be able to delegate much of your current cognitive work to machines. But, this does not mean that humans will become irrelevant.

Your job may be going away, but you are not. The need for people is never going away.

However, this does mean there needs to be a shift in thinking. As leaders, we must adapt and embrace the difference between humans and computers. What are these distinctive human attributes?

Using a table from The Mathematical Corporation, by Josh Sullivan and Angela Zutavern, we see where we excel over machines:

According to Sullivan and Zutavern:

Most service jobs, about 80 percent of employment in developed economies, require left-hand-column skills…Machines will soon do all of these tasks.

So, what do we do?

We change how we view our cognitive roles — we take the higher approach by accentuating the right column.

The entire right column actually equates to one major unique human skill: the ability to ask questions. Intrinsically, computers cannot be inquisitive or curious. They cannot connect seemingly dissonant concepts together to generate a brilliant question. Instead, they can answer, but they cannot contemplate. That’s a human strength.

The problem is that lately, humans have become answer-focused. We rarely take the time to ponder the reasoning behind things or even how to come up with the answer on our own.

In Hunch, author Bernadette Jiwa describes our current reality:

We are in danger of becoming a generation of plugged-in, look-it-uppers who are more ready to take things at face value and less willing to inquire or explore. More satisfied with proof and less open to discovery. More inclined to consume rather than create. More fearful of uncertainty than open to possibility.

We seek the right answers over the right questions. But getting the right answer is what computers do so well. If that is what you consider a skill, I can see why you would worry about the machines’ plot to overthrow humanity.

Luckily, we don’t have to become a generation of “look-it-uppers.”

Here are three things you can do to develop your uniquely human skills and defeat the machine takeover:

1. Expand Your Interests

Being aware of a variety of topics can create unexpected connections. These connections allow you to ask the right questions and begin solving them. With the endless resources we have today, there are many ways to become well-versed in a variety of topics, such as:

  • Consider getting a liberal arts education or take a few classes that you normally wouldn’t.
  • Every month, read a book outside of your comfort zone. For example, if you are a technical person, consider reading something about philosophy.
  • Take an online course in something you usually wouldn’t. There are plenty of inexpensive and even free places to take courses online such as www.udacity.com, www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses, and www.edx.org.

2. Challenge Your Assumptions

We use assumptions to frame our world. Unfortunately, these same assumptions calcify your thinking. To innovate, you must challenge your assumptions. So why not question everything you consider common sense? By placing the everyday under a microscope, you can reframe the world to better understand what it needs.

3. Generate Lots of Bad Ideas

Good ideas come from generating a lot of bad ideas. To start generating, commit to a constant cycle of questioning and learning. Since creativity is a muscle, there are many ways to exercise it. Three methods I find helpful and use daily:

  • Before you got to bed, write down a question, the constraints of the solution, and the tools that you have at your disposal. While you sleep, your subconscious will work on the problem. When you wake up, write down the flurry of thoughts you have about the question. I won’t say that I have found a great solution every morning, but I have found that I’m able to approach the question more effectively and come up with a good solution later in the day.
  • Train your creativity muscle by giving yourself a 10 Things List. At the time you are most fresh (mornings for me), create a topic to which you can attribute ten ideas. Don’t worry if the ideas seem stupid or are already out there. The point is to practice originating as many ideas as possible. If you get stuck, increase the number of ideas to fifteen to stretch your brain further. Then for each idea, write down the first step toward making that idea a reality. For example, if my topic is 10 Ways That Tech Can Reduce Stress, I would write my ten ideas (or fifteen if I was struggling) and write the first step to building/researching each idea.
  • Find a moment during the day that you can be free for 15–20 minutes. Use this time to sit and think. You don’t need a place where you are in complete solitude, just some place to take a breather and hear yourself think. Taking time to sit and think has been one of the most beneficial, but hardest, activities I have ever done. I find I’m more focused and have a clearer mind, and I’m also more creative afterwards.

It looks like the dreaded sci-fi predictions are becoming true — machines are taking over our blue-collar jobs. But, this does not signify the end. It signifies a necessary shift in human thinking and purpose.

Humans will need to progress from an answer-seeking species to a constantly questioning one. Leaders are now required to harness the strengths of machines by utilizing the strengths that make us human, namely asking the right questions.

So, expand your interests, challenge your assumptions, and generate a lot of bad ideas. For this, is the future of humanity.

Thanks for reading! If you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments. Be sure to give it a 💚 if you found it helpful so that others can find it!

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