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Worried a robot will replace you? Treat AI as an opportunity

With predictions of automation taking over and mass unemployment, it’s hard not to feel panicked. But the future of work could be liberating






I, robot? Think of AI as freeing you from the more mundane jobs, rather than competition.
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Read the news and you’ll see scary headlines telling you robots are coming and your job and business may well be on the line. But there are real opportunities for those willing to adapt and pay attention.

At a Guardian Business Made Simple panel discussion in London last month, my fellow panellists and I debated how AI and other technologies are transforming where and how we work. Challenges lie ahead undoubtedly but, as the recent Workplace of 2025 study shows, there is a real possibility that the future of your workplace will feel better, more suited to how you like to work and much less mundane – and that is good for business, productivity and workplace engagement.

Work is much more than tasks, GDP and a salary. It is also about meaning, a sense of purpose and feeling valued. AI is exactly what we need to help shake things up so that work is finally re-envisaged, re-constructed and delivered in a way that fits the modern world. But if you’re felling apprehensive about how artificial intelligence could affect your job, here are a few practical things that you can do today to feel in control of your own destiny and make the best of working with AI.

Ask yourself what you bring to your company

Being able to clearly articulate how you improve the bottom line will help you feel valued and stay employed. People who are critical to a business are the last to be replaced. Point to tangible, real outcomes that you either contributed to or are working towards. Even in teams, everyone should know what they bring to the whole.

Make time for thinking and reflection

A modern organisation needs all minds switched on to the ever-changing market. This is what business is all about, and AI can help you do that better by crunching the data. Ask yourself what the most important action is for your company, your boss, your team, or yourself. When interacting with people, really listen. Ask yourself, what is their true need? Make time to chat with someone who you identify as a big-picture person and ask them to explain this picture to you.

Do what you love now to gain different skills

People who love what they do perform better at work. When we’re curious, excited and clear on how we can make a difference we go full out. This is the recipe for brilliance. As AI arrives to replace the repetitive and the more mundane aspects of your role, embrace the process and start thinking and learning. Innovation happens when people ask questions, spot a gap and make improvements.

Magdalena Bak-Maier on the panel at the Business Made Simple future of work debate, supported by Vodafone.



Magdalena Bak-Maier on the panel at the Business Made Simple future of work debate, supported by Vodafone. Photograph: James Drew Turner for the Guardian

Allow AI to help you be more productive

Business adopts technology to improve the bottom line. But burnout is a pandemic. Tired minds and heavy hearts lack the energy for creativity. So, look out for technology that helps you rest, optimises your efficiency and makes life rewarding. Look at the technology that surrounds you already: your smartphone with apps, voice-recognition software and cloud-based productivity assistants, from spellcheckers to automatic calculators, and ask yourself how you could be using these to help you get more done, feel more rested and maintain good habits.

Remember, humans made AI

AI should be a servant not a master. Remember you have something AI does not have – spirit. Learn or do something different, experiment and change your perspective. According to a report from Dell [PDF] some 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been created yet. So there is every chance you will find yourself not only still in a job, but working in a more fulfilled way.

Magdalena Bak-Meier is a neuroscientist and productivity coach.

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