A.I. Versus Humans: Subjects That Teach You Skills Machines Can’t Replicate

Artificial Intelligence by Erudera News Apr 26, 2023

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this opinion piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the platform in which they are published.

This opinion piece strives to answer two main questions, “which areas of study will ‘rise to power’ now that A.I. has ‘taken over’?” and “which human skills cannot be replaced by A.I.?”

In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Israeli historian and author of Sapiens, Yuval Harari, states that he is unsure whether — bluntly paraphrased — humanity can survive A.I. Of course, the interview is eye-opening, in the sense that it really makes you think about what makes humans unique — which skills can we bring to the table that A.I. cannot?

With that in mind, being in the higher education industry, I immediately thought about students. The present is a time of confusion for students, who, now more than ever, have to think about the job market demand in addition to their own passions.

Creativity:

It is true that A.I. can write poems and create artwork. But to what extent? Poems written by ChatGPT, for example, are quite generic. While a ChatGPT poem has its fair share of figures of speech, i.e., metaphors or similies, it still lacks the skill to create verse with real depth. In addition, it is unlikely that A.I. will replicate the talent of Picasso or Vincent van Gogh when it comes to art.

For example, A.I. has a long way to go to create something like “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, written by T. S. Eliot. It is poems like these that A.I. has not yet been able to reproduce. Not to mention poems written by Sylvia Plath, E. E. Cummings, Edgar Allan Poe, Ezra Pound, or Robert Frost, to name just a few of my favorites.

While some may argue that creativity is a skill you either have or don’t have, I beg to differ. I believe in the old saying, “hard work beats talent anytime.”

So, by taking classes in literature, creative writing, philosophy, art, or any of the humanities, really, you will sharpen your creative skills. These subjects will allow you to delve deeper into books, paintings, and different perspectives — and taking classes in these subjects will, inevitably, place you in a position to think outside the box.

Emotional intelligence and empathy:

We cannot expect machines to have emotional intelligence for the simple fact that they do not have emotions. It’s as simple and as complex as that. Even we, as humans, sometimes struggle with grasping what emotional intelligence entails and how to apply it in our lives.

According to Mental Health America, emotional intelligence is the “ability to manage both your own emotions and understand the emotions of people around you.” While this is an essential skill in everyday life, it is also a highly valued skill in the workplace. Machines are not able to mimic empathy, understanding, or feeling.

You will find countless courses and certifications on emotional intelligence. This skill is a valuable asset and will complement any degree you possess.

Psychology, sociology, history, law, or any of the social sciences will indirectly teach you empathy. So will subjects on literature and art.

Critical thinking and personal perspective:

The good old critical thinking. While A.I. can make sense of large amounts of data, it lacks the human skill of thinking critically. Critical thinking is defined as “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.” — a human skill.

Having a personal perspective means having unique thoughts, opinions, and emotions and being able to reflect these into your work and life in general — another skill A.I. cannot replace.

Study areas like philosophy, political science, sociology, literature, as well as subjects like law, medicine, business, or even mathematics, will all develop your critical thinking and personal perspective.

Philosophy, for example, will teach critical thinking by encouraging students to think for themselves, e.i., question everything. Students will develop their critical eye by asking questions like “What is the ultimate nature of the universe?”, “What is man’s place in the cosmic scheme?” etc. Philosophical questions will help you evaluate arguments, explore foreign ideas, and think critically.

On the other hand, mathematics will allow you to improve your critical thinking skills by presenting mathematical problems which require solutions, evaluation, and justification.

Negotiation skills and entrepreneurship:

Negotiation skills are important in fields like law, banking, commerce, and politics. And, while machines can be persuasive, they lack the skill of negotiation and coming to an agreement. You can develop your negotiation skills through subjects like business, law, marketing, finance, etc.

It goes without saying that entrepreneurship is a skill A.I. is definitely not able to replicate. The Oxford Dictionary defines entrepreneurship as “the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.” Sounds like something A.I. can do? Probably not. One of the most common fields of study for entrepreneurs is business.

So, which is the most useful degree in the age of A.I.?

While the most logical answer would probably be to choose the humanities, this is not the case.

While a bot is capable of many things, and it is true that A.I. is shaping how things are done — we still have the advantage of being human. We are people who are able to think, reason, be creative, original, and empathize, whether or not we have studied the humanities or social sciences. These are skills you can develop even if you choose to study engineering or any of the more technical fields. They are fundamentally human skills, essential in each area of life.

About Author

Blerina Kelmendi is Chief Content Officer at Erudera and columnist for Erudera News. 

She is an English literature graduate with over five years of experience in the publishing industry, four of them being in educational publishing across multiple online platforms, including Inquero. In addition to her work as CCO and columnist with Erudera, she is an avid reader with a great interest in creative writing — in relation to which she has organized and participated in several literary clubs.

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