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  • Writer's pictureChristoph Burkhardt

Don't be a Robot

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

With the arrival of #AI everywhere around us we have to take a serious look at what makes us uniquely #human. If we (continue to) act like #robots we will be replaced by them.

Whenever you think you have seen it all somewhere on this planet some human being takes the whole game to the next level. We are, at least that is what I believe, the only species that constantly surprises itself with new #technologies, new #tools, new #insights and most of all surprises itself with the #application of all the knowledge we gather.

Today, we are looking at a world in which robots empowered by artificial intelligence look and behave more and more like humans. They talk like humans, walk like humans and they do many of the things humans have been able to do for thousands of years. We have reached a moment in our history at which we have to ask ourselves what it actually means to be a human being. What if a robot was as smart as we are, developed consciousness and had the motor skills we possess would we call this robot human?

Whether we like this development or not it is happening. Like any other technology driven development it is not a question of how we can stop the robots, the real question is how we will respond to them being part of our lives. Because - and that is out of question - they are already here.

While robots entered more and more spaces occupied and tasks performed by using human level intelligence our species has experienced the contrary development. Following the Industrial Revolution and driven by the idea of organizations and ultimately humans as machines we standardized and normalized everything around our education systems, work environments and political engagements. Without realizing it we transformed our messy and chaotic humankind into a well oiled functionally reliable machine. And we did this by transforming the humans in this machine into robots. We started to all study the same subjects in school, we learned to evaluate the results of our work in comparison to others or ourselves, we invented vacations in order to define what time had been reserved for work. We started working like robots, in an orderly, predictable, and highly structured way.

If we continue to do this now we will soon be outperformed by artificial intelligence in every aspect of life. If we do not unlearn the rules of standardized work and relearn the skills that made us human in the first place we will see mass unemployment and mass unemployability with people not knowing what to do with their lives. We need to relearn how to contribute to progress of all without having to go to an office and without having someone explain how to do things.

Those people focussing on particularly human capabilities today will have no problem to adapt to the changes that are inevitably heading our way. Organizations that establish human specific environments in which those capabilities can be strategically improved and relearned will dominate markets because they will attract the talent to create innovative products and services that drive progress and also because they leverage every skill of the human mind that can not be replaced by robots anytime soon.


Read more about the rise of smart machines and how they fundamentally change how we live and work. To get ready for the Age of AI check out Christoph Burkhardt’s new book “Don’t Be a Robot - Seven Survival Strategies in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”.

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