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What's Left for Humans in an Increasingly Computerized World?

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Penguin Random House
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Geoff Colvin's new book explores how the human component will always be essential in a world of growing technology.

Computers today are doing things that we thought were impossible, even just a few years ago.  They're doing everything from study legal briefs to driving cars, to vacuuming the house.  And that has society edging toward a tipping point.

"We've reached a point where the technology is now so advanced that it is eliminating jobs faster than it's creating new ones. That has never happened before," says Fortune magazine's senior editor at large Geoff Colvin

As students return to school, they're preparing for work in professions that are experiences sea changes with the times.  And that means we are all faced with the question of what jobs and skills are left for the domain of human beings?

"Instead of saying what is it computers can't do? Ask this question: What is it that human beings are compelled to do by our deepest nature?" asks Colvin.

The relationship between humans and technology is a subject Geoff Colvin has given a lot of thought in his new book, Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will.

Everywhere you look you often see a person's eyes glued to their smart phones or immersed in work on a computer. As each generation grows more attached to devices, Colvin says we are at risk of losing our competence in the basic human interactions that aren't filtered through a screen.

"We are actually losing our abilities to interact with other human beings, in person, face-to-face," Colvin says.

However, despite the alarming rate of technological advantage, Colvin still believes that the human factor will always be an essential element to not only the economy, but our survival.

"Empathy is really the foundation of all the skills of human interaction that are going to be the high-value skills as the economy evolves."

According to Colvin, one of the most valuable things we can do is put down the various devices upon occasion and to engage in an actual conversation with another human being, even if it makes a task less-efficient. While we do not want to become over-reliant on technology, Colvin still values its importance . The key is navigating the upcoming changes in technology in a manner that benefits humans.

"Overall, the technology is our friend, not our enemy," says Colvin. "It's making human life much, much better, and will do so beyond our imaginations. But it's changing the skills that are valuable in the economy, and that's what we've got to face."

Colvin mentioned a couple of useful sites that can measure "social intelligence" - your proficiency at reading and reaction to the emotions of others:

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Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.