An article about robots from 6 years ago was recently resurfaced by an Instagram account that tracks artificial intelligence. The article discusses a few things that humans do that could never be replaced by robots. Never is a short time in today’s exponential growth world. Do the predictions still hold true?
The robots were just beginning to come into being back then. And like our robot evolution in movies, our real life robots have evolved too. From HAL 9000 the 2001 AI computer that calmly sabotages a human mission to Jupiter to Al Pacino’s global movie star S1m0ne to the robot in Ex Machina, robots have not only gotten smarter but they’ve gotten much more attractive and now influence human behavior.
See robot influencers like Lil Miquela, Ronnie Blawko, Lil Wavi, and more that shape consumer’s minds about products and services. You’ve been speaking to Alexa, Google, or Siri for the past few years, and now Amazon has prettied up Alexa and given her a companion in the form of Astro the robot. Does Astro remind you of the Jetson’s (real) dog? Don’t fret, because if you want a robot dog, Sony has its Aibo puppy.
Despite the steep curve robots have come, the original predictions from the article still hold … for now. Humans still do have some value in this world. Whether you are looking for a new job, hoping for job security, or trying to avoid a Skynet situation, take note of what humans can do better than our robot counterparts.
Yes, humans still have the edge in creativity. While robots have been shown to auto generate thousands of NFTs, algorithmic art, music, and text, the inputs are still human fed; the human gives the AI the direction it wants it to go.
Can AI overtake humans in creativity? Most likely not in the next 5 years. To come up with a new direction, AI can use random numbers but most likely not come up with something humans have yet to see.
Despite this, don’t many good artists copy and great artists steal? Perhaps our Picasso inspired robots can merge in a combination of previous artists to come up with its own unique style.
Yes, humans still have the edge in relationships. Automated phone systems, while not the best example for human relationships, are still abysmal. With the exception of Samantha played by Scarlett Johansen, humans are still better at relating to other humans. Robots still have not experienced what humans have experienced and that lack of empathy makes a “shoulder to cry on” much more meaningful.
In addition, humans are much more interesting than bots. At least most humans. While some robots have played basketball, skydived, and fought in wars, humans are still much better embellishers and storytellers.
Storytelling is key to relationships as is the way stories are communicated. While communication amongst robots is primarily driven by words, human communication is based on body language and other non verbal cues that are important to understand. What someone means, how they feel, and what they want might be completely communicated silently. Most robots are still primarily verbal, and have been programmed to primarily agree with you. And like HAL they are always pleasant.
Yes, humans are still better at sales. After all, selling complex software, for example, does play on emotions. While many marketers do have a role to play here, sales (at least B2B sales) relies on relationships (see above) and empathy. These are really the traits that keep humans on top of robots. That being said, many of the simple sales operations are being replaced by robots as you may have noticed, like Amazon Go’s Just Walk Out technology, Self Checkout, and many of the new screens that have replaced waitstaff (especially in light of the Covid 19 pandemic).
So today, humans are still better than robots in these things. And while Astro can’t go up and down stairs, some of the Boston Dynamics robots that will be fourth generation Astro have demonstrated that it’s not impossible. It’s no wonder that Astro is named after the Jetson’s still analog pup, since the next version might be named after a real robot, Rosie.