Needing a “Human Touch” Won’t Make Your Job Safe From AI


Needing a “Human Touch” Won’t Make Your Job Safe From AI

People skills won’t last all that long either


DALLE image by author “Photorealistic drawing of a robot using a camera to record a scenic view”
DALLE image by author: Photorealistic drawing of a robot using a camera to record a scenic view

I imagine you could easily find a few thousand articles that discuss AI (artificial intelligence) and insist that certain jobs will be safe from being replaced by intelligent computers. According to them, there are jobs that computers will never do.

I’ll say this loudly:

The only jobs that are safe from AI will be those that we protect with laws. The only job that I know for sure will be protected is that of politicians and even that may only apply at the highest levels of government.

Sorry for shouting like that.

Arguments against AI taking your job

Typically the unworried person looks around at the jobs that robotics and AI like ChatGPT are threatening and thinks, “Well, sure, those jobs are at risk. But my job requires people skills, I’m safe.”

Another unimpressed individual might tell us that their job is more art than science; that computers can’t discern aesthetic value.

And then there is that ill-defined “human touch”, with perhaps a bit of empathy and humor for dressing.

I can’t imagine computers doing any of that, can you? I guess they must be right; their jobs are safe.

Oops. There’s your aesthetic value already. Different humans and different AI’s might disagree on who the most beautiful person is or which photograph is the best, of course. Human standards for beauty come from what we’ve learned; the same is true for AI.

That DALLE image at the top of this post imagines a robot using a camera to record a scenic view. We don’t have robots like that yet — yet — but I can easily imagine a drone trained for beauty deciding how to find an emotion packed photo of that scene. That technology will probably be in your cell phone in a few years, suggesting that you move six feet to the left and kneel slightly to get that “perfect” shot. It might even suggest that a human gazing into the distance would spice things up. Professional photographers might want to think about that.

After all, there’s no difference between a computer learning what humans find attractive than learning what a dangerous MRI looks like. Beauty is mostly symmetry; computers can see that even better than we can. For the rest, all an AI needs is data to swallow.

Sorry, Doc, I hope your college loan is already paid off.

But what about that human touch?

The “human touch” is just actions that come from the decisions made by your biological computer, your brain. You learned — well, some of us learned — how to be personable, likable, human. Computers can’t do that, can they?

Well, Google’s AI actually convinced one of their engineers that it was conscious. Do you think it was being personable or robotic? It learned how to talk to people just like you did.

People skills are just skills. I made my living for over thirty years solving hardware and software problems. I wouldn’t recommend that as a long term job today even though a large part of it was people skills. In that particular case, businesses just want the glitches fixed, they don’t care if you smile pleasantly while fixing things.

If you think your job is safe, you are almost certainly wrong. If you are lucky, you may manage to stay employed in the same field all of your working life, but the AI train is gathering speed and all of us are in its path.

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