MANILA (UPDATE)- Artificial intelligence can make humans smarter and excel in things that they're good at, said New York Times bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, who is in Manila to speak during SM Supermalls’ Tenant-Partners Summit.
The renowned Canadian journalist and public speaker believes AI should not be considered as a threat to the human workforce especially for professions that deal with personal relationships.
“AI is something that I think, in its best form, will allow human beings to do what we’re best at," Gladwell said.
He said the use of AI would instead help humans to function more efficiently.
"For example, a lawyer’s main function is to settle disputes among humans. It’s something that no machine can ever do. It’s about sitting down with human beings and bringing into some kind of resolution of a conflict, helping to understand each other. That’s why lawyers become experts in those kinds of human relationships,” Gladwell said."
Like automation, the rise of new technology such as generative AI has caused fears of job loss, especially for low-skilled positions.
But like Gladwell, many companies are also betting on AI to make their employees more competitive by streamlining and fast-tracking mundane tasks.
The BPO sector, for one, is eyeing the use of AI to make their workers more productive.
NAVIGATING POST-PANDEMIC WORK SET-UP
Gladwell also shared his thoughts on the remote work setup. Many firms implemented remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic and it has since changed how firms run their businesses globally.
A podcast earlier became "controversial" where he said remote work is not in the best interest of workers.
He clarified that the comment does not apply to everyone but he emphasized that for creative and collaborative businesses, working together proves to be more beneficial.
“It proved quite controversial. That was not my intention… Does that mean everyone under all circumstances needs to come to the office? No,” Gladwell explained.
“My comments came from a feeling that in my line of work, in a collaborative business, it is really hard to do good work when everyone is not together. I’m not passing judgment on other businesses that have a different structure,” he added.
But he also recognized those who have difficulties in terms of reporting to the office physically. The challenge, he said, is for businesses and workers to adapt to what works best in specific circumstances.
“The challenge is for us to be flexible and to understand under which circumstances is working together from the office the best and most productive use of our time and under which circumstances does it not matter,” Gladwell said.
Gladwell is the author of bestselling books Outliers, The Tipping Point and Blink, among others. He is expected to share more of his expertise during the summit organized by one of the country's largest mall chain operators.