A recent article in Harvard Business Review claimed that in the age of artificial intelligence, "being smart" will mean something completely different. I totally agree.
This reminded me of our Tabulit comic Now Recharging by Maiji/Mary Huang, which is sci-fi tale set in a time where robots have achieved self-awareness and are integrating into society. Take a look:
AI is not going away and will impact us all
The reality is, robots and artificial intelligence are already automating a lot of human-based jobs, especially in the labour-intensive sectors. This means, where before we competed against other people for gainful employment, we are now, sci-fi as it may sound, compete against machines that can learn.
However, the Harvard Business Review article states, we will need people to perform the "higher-order critical, creative, and innovative thinking and the jobs that require high emotional engagement to meet the needs of other human beings."
in other words, "smart" will no longer mean we know more about something than another person. Machines can and will always know more than us. Machine are far smarter than us in this context. "Smart" for humans will mean the capacity for critical thinking, creativity, innovation and emotional engagement.
Artificial Intelligence Cannot Recreate Emotional Intelligence (Not In The Near Future Anyway)
Humans have one thing over machines and that is the capacity for emotions. There is a lot of sci-fi theory around whether machines can experience emotions. Being "self-aware" as a machine means it can only know it is a machine. And where the main robot character in Now Recharging may be emotional, currently, a state of emotional awareness is impossible for a machine no matter how artificially intelligent it is.
This is where, if we are to compete for jobs in the future, emotional intelligence (EQ) will become a critical and competitive advantage.
Where EQ Starts
As an executive coach that specializes in the neuroscience of high performance, I have ranted about EQ a lot already. But the reality of artificial intelligence makes my arguments that much more relevant.
So, where do you start learning to build EQ? There are three components:
- Self-Awareness (Starts with Being Open for Reflection)
- Developing an Emotional Vocabulary (Ex: "I feel shame right now.")
- Empathy (Learning to Feel What Others Feel)
The information online around EQ is bountiful. But here is my most important advice: EQ cannot be learned by reading books, going online or even an app (although may of these sources they can teach you EQ). You can only learn about EQ from these channels. The only way to truly learn EQ is by interacting with real people, and not by video chat either. EQ requires a relational experience.
My advice is to get out there and start interacting with people. While you do, try to be aware of what you are feeling. Learn emotional vocabulary so you can share what you are feeling. Being vulnerable accelerates EQ development. Finally, take the time to actually feel what others feel. This requires heavy doses of listening. And if you have done the work in self-awareness and emotional vocabulary, empathy begins to develop quite naturally.
Ego and Fear
As the Harvard Business Review article states, "The new smart will be about trying to overcome the two big inhibitors of critical thinking and team collaboration: our ego and our fears."
This statement hits home for me. It makes me ask, how much does my own ego and fear prevent me from growing in emotional intelligence?
Hmmm... to be transparent, I really don't like my answer. It makes me feel vulnerable to embrace this truth about myself. But that's OK because I know I am taking another step to being truly "smart" in new ways.
How about you?