The power of AI is increasing exponentially and most AI researchers expect AI to be able to outsmart us at all jobs within decades. How can you ensure that technology empowers you, not overpowers you?
As I write this article 35,000 feet above the ground sitting in the Emirates flight returning to America after facilitating a three-day workshop for IT leaders in Dubai, I reflected on the progress we have made in technology. During my talk in Dubai, on the one hand, everyone shared how technology has made our life more comfortable and ultrafast. On the other hand, I witnessed two major fears amongst many IT folks- the fear of becoming obsolete and the fear of automaton taking over jobs. Both these fears are now ten a penny because we have had a technology power shift since the dot-com age. I recollect here Joe, who attended one of my public workshops in San Jose, USA. Joe had been working for eight years with this manufacturing company as a technical team leader. Due to the constant threat of layoffs, and automation taking over jobs, Joe had taken up additional work to survive the layoff. He worked hard and tirelessly keeping up with global teams. However, November of 2018 Joe lost his job. When I met Joe later he was frantically looking for another job and all this while he blamed his company policies, and technology for taking away his position.
He hated this fast-paced technological development that replaced his work with machines. When I sat to talk with Joe during lunch, what I got to know was that automation/AI wasn't responsible for his lost job but he himself. No one around was to blame except himself. Joe had never paid attention towards developing himself and growing not just in skillset but in mindset. He overlooked the power he had given away to technology and how it made his career go on a downward spiral. At some point, almost each of us has accused and cursed the technology giving it complete power to overpower us, to make us feel helpless, to make us fear it. What we fail to notice is how we have become victims rather than a master of AI. We give powers to technology, a mere machine, to make us feel insecure. Leaders are masters, not victims. Even though we often know as much (if not more) than technology, we surrender our power and confidence to them. Start to make a conscious choice to take back your power because technology is going to change and move faster than you can imagine. It’s time to know how to make yourself a powerful leader so that the brains that create the technology are not dependent or helpless. Rapid technology change is disruptive, and we must prepare for the changes. Start to recreate your powerful leader self.
Here are five steps you can take to make sure technology will ultimately empower–not overpower–us.
1. Be an energy gainer: Most of our work hours go in complaining. It takes a good amount of energy to complain about. All that energy which you can use to move ahead in your job and business is going into complaining. You see, a machine does not complain. You program it for a specific task, and it will keep doing it. Because you are in the complaining mode, blaming situations and people, your efficiency decreases. Productivity goes down, and results fall short. Now, this is where AI takes up your role. Companies want higher productivity and AI is delivering what you aren’t. Don’t waste your energy complaining. Be an energy gainer, not an energy drainer.
2. Increase your value: If there is one thing you can do to beat a machine, it is to increase your value. A question I ask at most of my workshops in IT companies is this- 'there is upgrade happening all around us. When was the last time you upgraded yourself?' Upgrading yourself is one way of ensuring you are not obsolete or easily replaceable. Read every day not just technical stuff but on subjects outside of your industry, do some research work, enhance your skill sets. Improve yourself, work on yourself year over year, carefully differentiating yourself from others and creating your personal image.
3. Take actions daily: Machines can take action only because of specific patterns and commands. Which means humans will always outsmart machines because of our ability to take actions by learning unlimited patterns. A dog can only be a dog; a tree can just be a tree. But humans can be anything they want to, provided they take actions. You must get out of your head and take action. With action, you open a new stream of possibilities. Without it, you’ll be stuck in the same old pattern of complaining. Just take the smallest step. Small steps taken over a period of time will substantially change your reality.
4. Demand more of yourself: Stagnancy sets in when you don’t demand more of yourself. You can only increase your power by making room for it. Work harder, demand a higher level of excellence from your own actions and completely focus your energies on what you can do, not what you can’t. Push yourself to dream bigger, work smarter, and do more
5. Be a step ahead: I spent time in India in 2014, where I had the opportunity to witness a chess tournament. It quickly became apparent to me that the players are not merely living in the moment but thinking several moves ahead. The same applies to our work life. The best people pursue long-term strategies. Taking the effort to make a good forecast is critical to the success of any business.
It’s time to take back the leadership power that has shifted. What scares me is that we have overly prepared ourselves when it comes to skill set. And knowing how not to get overpowered by AI is predominantly a mindset game. May the force be with you.
This article of Payal Nanjiani has been published in Silicon India Magazine. https://news.siliconindia.com/technology/The-Great-Leadership-Power-Shift-nid-206555-cid-2.html