How Not To Lose Your Job To Robots, Part 2

Paul Dandurand

Part 2 in a 2-part series. Read Part 1

In our last post, we talked about three steps you can take to keep your project management job as your firm starts to use AI for projects. In this post, we’ll wrap it up with a couple more steps.

Think outside the ROBOT box

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt you needed a creative solution and spent hours thinking without any result? That’s because creativity largely stems from our unconscious mind. You’re more likely to get to these Aha! moments when you’re not actively thinking about the situation. It’s a beautiful concept that even animals can benefit from, but alas, our friends the robots are not so lucky.

AI software can indeed create something new. Some can compose new songs and create art. But this takes a lot of computing power and still requires human input to be truly cohesive and pleasurable for humans.

What is more common today is the use of conversation bots with unstructured natural language. However, someone still needs to set up the bots to consider the many variations of user questions that are typed in the system.

You know how your phone can suggest words or responses to automatically complete the sentence you’re writing? It does this by scrutinizing all the text messages and emails you write on a daily basis to analyze and identify patterns. If you type “What” on your phone right now, you’ll see a suggestion of the word you use most often. You’re basically training the AI every time you type.

Researchers used this same concept, but instead of having the computer analyze texts and emails, they fed it several dozen movie scripts and then asked it to write a whole script of its own. They then hired a crew to shoot the movie. The final result was basically gibberish. The words are in English, and the grammar and the syntax are correct, but much of it is meaningless and incoherent.

You can see that computers have a long way to go before they become innovators, and that’s where humans can continue to provide value. Project managers are forced to show creative problem solving consistently. The key here is to build a project culture that fosters idea thinking for both small and big innovation designed to make future projects much better. If you learn how to do this, you’re sure to keep your job.

Always be three steps ahead

Before I make my point, I need to clear something up: prediction and planning are two completely different things. Predictions are made based on past or present data (or trends) and present the likeliest outcome based on these events if nothing changes. Planning, however, is an account of what should be done in the future. You can plan an event based on past events, or choose to go in a completely different direction due to a multitude of external factors.

This is another area where project managers can benefit from AI to make better decisions and therefore provide more value. Computers fall short in the absence of information or when they must imitate human interaction. Planning ahead usually involves uncertainty, interpersonal skills, creativity as well as predictive analysis in order to ensure the best decision is made. Once again, the most value is provided by humans combining their ideas, empathy, judgement, and creativity with the AI robots.

As you can see, the arrival of AI in your workplace could be a negative, unless you are able to understand where AI complements your intelligence instead of replacing it.

If you show leadership skills in your project management role, and your bosses see this, you’ll most likely keep your job!

This article originally appeared on the Pie blog and is republished by permission.


Paul Dandurand

About Paul Dandurand

Paul Dandurand is the founder and CEO of PieMatrix, a visual project management application company. Paul has a background in starting and growing companies. Prior to PieMatrix, he was co-founder of FocusFrame, where he wore multiple hats, including those of co-president and director. He helped position FocusFrame as the market leader with process methodology differentiation. FocusFrame was sold to Hexaware in 2006. Previously, he was a management consulting manager at Ernst & Young (now Capgemini) in San Francisco and Siebel Systems in Amsterdam. Paul enjoys photography, skiing, and watching independent films. He earned a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley.