It is hard to escape the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in today’s world, with the Middle East alone projected to reap 2% of the total global benefits of AI by 2030, equating to an eye-watering US$320 billion, according to a recent report by PwC Middle East.
The range of AI applications is vast, whether it is powering repetitive manufacturing tasks, facilitating chatbots that answer our queries, aiding healthcare experts in identifying potential health risks, or even advising us on optimal hashtags for social media posts.\
From the first time we check our phones in the morning, to the algorithm-curated carousel suggestions on our preferred streaming platforms, the reality is that most of us encounter AI every single day, even if we do not know it.
Simultaneously, there’s increasing discussion and debate on the potential risks of AI to humanity- its potential misuse, and the looming fear of it eventually supplanting human creativity, curiosity, and innovation.
But despite the clear role of AI as a catalyst for efficiency, we cannot overlook the paramount significance of soft skills or, as Simon Sinek refers to them, “human skills.” Qualities like communication, time management, teamwork, networking, empathy, critical thinking, proactivity, and self-awareness remain foundations to personal success and development. These are areas where AI falls short.
The Middle East, with its vibrant mosaic of cultures and traditions, is a testament to the irreplaceable importance of these human skills. Personal and professional communication requires emotion, sensitivity, nuance, and an understanding of diverse viewpoints- capabilities that AI, no matter how proficient in handling data, cannot replicate (at least right now). Emotional intelligence and cultural competence are quintessentially human traits that only humans can bring to the table.
The intricate dynamics and high regard for personal relationships in the region make these human skills even more critical. Subtle adjustments in real-time, tone nuances, and the capacity to “read the room” are exclusively human and indispensable in effective communication. These skills foster deeper and richer human-led experiences, fortifying the foundations of our professional and social lives. Many employers would agree these qualities are what they look for in their teams, and, in many ways, are the traits hardest to train.
Without doubt, AI is one of many emerging technologies reshaping human existence. As we reflect on the remnants of the global COVID-19 pandemic and contemplate the future, it is clear that our lives have been, and will continue to be, digitally enhanced. As a result of the realities of the past two years, many of us have sought more authentic experiences, rekindling connections with family and friends, and making a commitment to spend quality time with our loved ones. And as we navigate deeper into the digital age, we must never forget that it is the human touch that makes us employable, our messages meaningful, our stories memorable, our relationships resilient, and our memories cherished.