Back to articles

The one thing AI can never replace: the human touch

by Jim Ries

In the last few months, AI has exploded into the public consciousness. With all the breathless reporting on its capabilities, it’s been hard to miss. Reactions have run the gamut from the mild – this is just a shiny new tool for humanity to use – to the extreme belief that humanity as we know it is obsolete.

AI is cropping up in expected places such as workplace automation, customer service, and homework assignments, but it’s also making moves into unexpected areas – literature, research, academia, and even the courtroom. The breadth and depth of the areas AI can impact is alarming to many and catastrophic to some. And yet, one thing for certain will carry humanity forward: the very humanness of humanity.

Humanity is not obsolete

Let’s get one thing straight from the start – humanity is not obsolete, whatever alarmists might say. No matter how good AI may become at replicating humanity, it will never be human. Just as everyone prefers to hear a “Hello” on the other end of a phone line over “Push 1 or 2”, there will always be a market for human creativity, empathy, emotional intelligence, and genuine connection.

Here’s a simple example. Using just the internet, we can effectively learn anything from YouTube or Wikipedia already. However, things learned this way are easily forgotten. People rarely develop an attachment to anything learned using these tools and platforms, unlike the way you might feel an attachment to a recipe you learned in your grandmother’s kitchen or a story told by your favourite teacher. The same logic can be applied to virtually anything in life. We develop and recall connections to humans, not computers.

Applying the human touch in your business life

Luckily for us, applying the human touch in our business life is easy. We’re human. However, applying the human touch goes far beyond simply smiling and being friendly. To really set ourselves apart from the machines, we must show active interest in the lives and interests of our associates, develop relationships and conversations that don’t just deal with immediate business, and generally offer value added outside of the task or conversation at hand.

Remember, an AI is given a task and completes that task; it doesn’t wonder how that task affects the lives and interests of its consumers. And AI doesn’t elaborate or give feedback to open up new jobs and new opportunities – only humans do that, and the better you do it, the more valuable a contact you will be. 

The future is human, the future is you

The future of AI is not clear. How far or if it advances is not carved in stone. It’s not even sure if it will weather problems like “catastrophic forgetting”. What is certain is that in the days, months, and years ahead, the key to success will be people. Managing relationships, building connections, and generally driving the value of humanity will continue to be valued as it has for thousands of years. The future is human. The future is you.

30 November 2023

Jim Ries

Offit Kurman, Attorneys at Law, Director of Business Development

Offit Kurman, Attorneys At Law