Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton SEI Center For Advanced Studies in Management made an important argument for the limitations of AI in the Harvard Business Review. AI can never replace our emotional intelligence.

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Few people would argue that a person could outperform an advanced technology system at ingesting and analyzing data or manufacturing operations.

But for professions where, as the researchers Megan Beck and Barry Libert pointed out, potential AI applications are becoming more clear and compelling, like medicine, financial counseling, teaching, business consulting, and more, there are certain areas where we have robots beat. “Skills like persuasion, social understanding, and empathy are going to become differentiators as artificial intelligence and machine learning take over our other tasks,” Beck and Libert wrote.

Can AI analyze medical test results and spit out the findings? Yes. Can it deliver bad news in a compassionate and understanding manner? Unlikely. Can it analyze employee performance and tell workers where they need to improve? Perhaps. Can it understand the best way to coach and motivate a team of employees who all think differently? Definitely not. Robots aren’t known for their pep talks.

Rather than fight AI, Beck and Libert said the wisest strategy to make ourselves irreplaceable is to “invest in developing your emotional intelligence.” The jobs that can’t be completely improved by AI are those where the human component is a necessity.

Read more at Harvard Business Review.

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