If you worry for the threat to the traditional job market from AI and machine-learning, take heart from what you see happening right now. 

It might have taken a viral pandemic to get us to this point, but have you noticed how it is that the ‘human’ element has stepped in to provide so many workable solutions?  No matter how robust the mathematical modelling to predict the gradient of a viral infection curve, so many of the problems have been unforeseen, and it has taken creativity and imagination to provide answers. 

Somebody came up with the idea for a round of applause for all those health service workers and it won’t have been a machine that clocked the need for an outpouring of empathy or the simplest means of conveyance.  It took human initiative to set up neighbourhood action groups to ensure that self-isolators are being looked after.  In business, it never previously made good economic sense for restaurant owners to provide their workers with free food but that’s what you see happening, and there are countless more examples of communication, empathy and emotional intelligence being put into practice.  Sure, technology plays a hand in facilitating such decisions but it took a human to be inspired in the first place. 

And it’s not just the little things either.  Governments are having to think on their feet, working in collaboration with foreign regimes in the sharing of infection data, research of vaccines and ramp-up of testing equipment for the benefit of all.  As for the gigantic rescue packages, financial modelling will have played a part in reducing the guesswork as to the potential economic cost, but since we don’t really know how it’s all going to pan out it’s still a guess and a human one at that.

SOFT SKILLS ARE THE NEW HARD SKILLS – Remember that list of qualities that include Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Adaptability, Creativity, and Collaboration.  We can do all this, and what’s more we’re better it than any machine, because we’re human.  As Jacob Morgan points out in his succinct post on Linkedin (well-worth following), it is the people who help others out that are going to be of most value to an employer, and we shouldn’t have to wait for a crisis event such as COVID-19 for such skills to be recognised and valued.  If we’re savvy we should be doing this all the time.