Bot Got Your Job? Fight Back With Soft Skills

Artificial intelligence and the future of work are already here and you can can fight back by boosting your soft skills

By Amrit & Loralyn


These days, the world is weird and wonky. Earth has become a tough place to navigate. The spikey little virus wreaked havoc on just about every paradigm and social norm we have. While COVID was making its public debut, uninvited though it was, another life-altering phenomenon was under development. Even though artificial intelligence (AI) has been around since the 1950s, it didn’t have a name or a persona until November 30, 2022 when ChatGPT made its debut. Since then, it’s taken the world by storm, caught tech titans off-guard, and it has been openly vilified by its opponents who are threatening doomsday scenarios. But it may be a modern example of, “if you can’t beat it, join it” because there are ways to fight back.

Dr. Geoffrey Hinton is affectionately known as the “Godfather of AI.” Together with two of his students, he developed technology in 2012 at the University of Toronto later which later became the intellectual foundation for the contemporary AI systems. Popular AI chat bots like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard are based on Dr. Hinton’s seminal work on generative artificial intelligence. So yo can appreciate how shocking it was to learn that he recently quit as Google’s chief scientist after spending 10 years with the company. “I left so that I could talk about the dangers of AI without considering how this impacts Google,” he tweeted after quitting. What dangers is he talking about?

Hinton tweets about the dangers of artificial intelligence

Although the fears of world domination by AI machines in a Hollywood Terminator-esque or Matrix-style experience seem a bit far-fetched, at least right now, there is an onslaught of chat bots that we need to pay attention to. Several AI chat bot applications are already taking over, or on the verge of taking over, many white-collar jobs. From help desk support to low level software development, bots are learning how to do the work of humans.



There is a precedent of displacement by technology

It’s not like this is new. In the 1970s and 1980s, automation hit manufacturing plants and assembly lines very hard, particularly in Detroit. In the mid-1980s, the city gained the dubious distinction of becoming the USA’s first “robot city.” Today, it remains blistered by the loss of income and prestige that the automobile factories once afforded to it. In stark contrast, it now stands as a beacon for the country’s “rust belt.”

Many experts are claiming that AI chat bots are going to change the world just like the Industrial Revolution did. For better or for worse, obviously this remains to be seen. One of the key problems is that there seems to be no regulation over what to build and what not to build. There is no international standard or regulatory body. In many published case studies, even the creators of the super tech don’t understand the boundaries of what their AI solutions are capable of.

Back in 2017, Facebook’s AI program made headlines for all the wrong reasons with wild claims that the program had been shut down because two bots communicating with each other started speaking in their own language that was uninterpretable by the engineers. Those claims were labelled as misinformation and “fake news” by Facebook who made a public statement that the bots did make up some words and that the behavior observed was par for the course with AI experimentation – but they didn’t vehemently deny the claims. In fact, the bots were taught the foundations of negotiation and learned how to compromise by pretending to like something only to later concede it as a negotiation strategy.

AI can generate code. AI can generate advanced AI through connected neural networks. It can understand complex concepts and form opinions. Yes, it can also express those opinions in a highly evolved language. It can write content and copy. It can process insurance claims. It can make medical diagnosis. It can write. It can participate in political debates. It can respond to emotional messages which blurs the foundational line-in-the-sand between machines and humans.

AI and the Future of Work

The most profound changes facing society now are in the realm of employment. An estimated 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next 5 years due to AI, the latest World Economic Forum report claims. Goldman Sachs says that in the coming years, AI could impact 300 million jobs worldwide. Two-thirds jobs in the US and Europe could be automated; at least to some degree. Women are at high-risk where an estimated 80% of jobs held by women may be affected versus 58% of jobs held by men today.

Multiple Silicon Valley companies are building artificial intelligence apps at an alarming pace. Although a group of tech luminaries have urgently called for a 6-month moratorium on AI development, their desperate plea has gone essentially unheard. The appetite for ChatGPT (and its counterparts) appears to be voracious. Revenue estimates for 2023 are $200M with an expected 5x growth in 2024. Currently, the following skills and jobs are in danger of being replaced by AI chat bots:

  • Tech-related jobs such as programming, data analytics, and coding
  • Media jobs such as content creation, technical writing, copywriting, and journalism
  • Legal industry jobs such as legal assistants and paralegals
  • Research analysts
  • Teachers (this is particularly troubling as Gen Z & Alpha are already being lamented for their lack of social skills)
  • Financial analysts and personal financial advisors
  • Graphic and web designers
  • Accountants
  • Customer support executives

This is not a comprehensive list. There are many more categories and subcategories that fast-emerging AI chat bots may overtake. However, it is unlikely that these jobs will be completely replaced, at least not in the foreseeable future. But estimates that 60-70% of the most repetitive tasks of these jobs will be overtaken by artificial intelligence doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Curious how your soft skills compare to your peers?

Take our Soft Skills Assessment and find out.

AI at School and Work

What is artificial intelligence? AI is a combination of machine learning and big data analytics that simulates the human brain. What distinguishes the human brain from computers is its ability to constantly learn on its own from the information and experiences it gathers from its surroundings. Artificial intelligence modules aim to achieve the same – they evolve on their own by analyzing the information they already have (thousands of terabytes) and the information that they gather in real-time when interacting with machines and human beings.

AI and the future of work show that soft skills and interpersonal skills are critical Initially the technology was also called a “neural network,” because it had parallels to a computerized brain. It learns skills by finding statistical patterns in massive amounts of data. For example, ChatGPT was trained on 175 billion “parameters” or data points. Google Bard was trained on 137 billion parameters. And GPT-4 is supposedly capable of accommodating a mind-blowing 100 trillion parameters.

What makes AI powerful is that unlike the human brain, it can solve problems untiringly. It doesn’t get distracted, and it can solve “unsolvable” hyper-combinatorial equations – the kind that give mathematicians migraines – in seconds. It crunches millions of instructions in less time than it takes us to blink. It can detect language patterns among millions of sentences in the blink of an eye.

Until a few months ago, AI came subtly embedded in other applications such as search, chat bots, word processors, databases and voice-powered interfaces. Although everyone was aware of AI, it was ChatGPT that catapulted AI into the mainstream to make solving math problems, writing essays, and other homework child’s play. More than one-third of college students admitted to using ChatGPT to cheat on their exams.

With AI, it’s not just the potential loss of jobs that we need to worry about, we need to worry about our children not learning anything, being exempted from final exams and standardized tests that demonstrate learning and doing all their learning asynchronously in the void of social emotional skills.

ChatGPT is a chat bot developed by OpenAI. You can “talk” to it in conversationally. Give it a prompt, and it responds. It answers follow-up questions. It admits mistakes and makes changes according to the ongoing conversation. It politely rejects inappropriate requests. It can generate code in all popular programming languages. People are claiming to have built mobile apps in minutes using ChatGPT. In March 2023, ChatGPT was smart enough to pass the bar exam by scoring among the top 10% of those who took it. ChatGPT had 1 million users within the first five days of its launch. Two months later, it had 100 million active users. Just for comparison, it took four-and-a-half years for Facebook to reach 100 million users. Twitter took 5 years and YouTube took a little more than four years.

Soft Skills & Interpersonal Skills

Proponents say that instead of taking jobs, AI will make people more efficient. During the transition from the 20th century to the 21st century, for example, there was a 50-fold increase in the productivity of the manual workers due to better manufacturing techniques and efficient management. Some experts say the same should be expected with AI. Aside from the AI onslaught, jobs are going through major transformations due to changing dynamics, technological advancements, and even climate change. Manual and repetitive tasks are fast being performed by machines. As an organization fit to succeed in the 21st century, your leaders and managers must have a unique mindset, toolset, and skill set. The rules of the 20th century are no longer applicable now, and in the coming years. You need to deliver soft leadership, which is a mix of soft skills and conventional ability to lead people. In the new business philosophy, it is not the customer who comes first. It’s your employees. Happy employees create happy customers, happy customers make financial statements look attractive, and that makes shareholders happy.

The current generation of young employees is career-oriented, but because the spectrum of choices is wider for them now, they prefer to stay in organizations that provide a better, a more humane environment where quality of life is not compromised. Soft-skills -related employability is equally important along with conventional skills being learnt at the university level. World Economic Forum recently released its “Future of jobs 2023” report and lists soft skills that employees will need to develop or acquire if they don’t want to lose their jobs to AI. There are certain jobs that AI tools cannot perform. And certain ways of doing a job. There is a way to fight back! Boost your interpersonal skills to stand out from the crowd:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Resilience along with flexibility and agility
  • Motivation and heightened self-awareness
  • Curiosity – embrace lifelong learning
  • Digital literacy
  • Dependability and attention to detail
  • Empathy and attentive listening
  • Leadership coupled with social influence
  • Professionalism

There is going to be a 72% increase in the demand for analytical thinkers in the next five years based on what the World Economic Forum reported. With an unprecedented level of information available at our fingertips, it is no longer about what you know. Instead, it has shifted to how you use information to convert into knowledge and make data-informed decisions.  Analytics to do this is a part of hard skill training, which 88% employees reportedly lack but wish to acquire. At the same time, 84% employees think that soft skills and/or interpersonal development are equally important to hard skills and they desire this training, too. The soft skills that are in demand include habits and behaviors at the workplace, personality traits, the ability to empathize with others and the ability to communicate to people of all ages and levels of responsibility. Employee training can become a differentiator here.

With AI tools redefining the nature of work and the pace of change, companies who do not train their employees are at a critical disadvantage. They risk retention losses, the ability to attract new talent, workplace friction, as well as financial losses. Executives who fail to practice inclusive leadership risk the threat of redundancy, termination, and ownership of a team that cannot attain its goals. Individuals who lack proficiency in these essential interpersonal skills also face the threat of replacement and financial struggles.

Don’t wait! Brush up on your soft skills, your interpersonal skills, and consider our inclusive leadership development program now!

Take our Soft Skills Assessment to see how you compare to your peers.

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