The Four Types of Work We Do
And those that would likely be taken away by AI (that's a good thing)
There is a lot of fear that AI will take jobs away. Here’s my take: it’s more likely that AI will take away parts of most—if not, every—job, rather than displace jobs entirely. While there are just some functions that are better suited for AI/ML, most jobs need (varying) elements of human creativity.
As a thought experiment, I applied the known-unknown matrix to types of work best suited for humans and AI: what if every job is a mixture of these four “types of work” (see image below)?
The jobs that lean heavily on the “empirical” corner seem more at risk, but I think this means that the transition here is to increase capabilities or expertise in other “types of work” within a role. For instance, designing new methodologies for quant finance, versus deployment of old frameworks.
Granted, the transition will be disruptive, but in disruption also lies opportunity. Ultimately, AI will free us up to do less automated work, and nudge us towards becoming more creative and collaborative.
It’s creativity, not fear, that’s needed most in the face of change.
The Four Types of Work (ranged from better suited to AI/ML to humans):
The Empirical: The Known-Knowns
These refer to the things we are aware of and understand; like facts and information that are well-known and established, that we have clear knowledge about. Think: automating and or scaling battle-tested processes, or workflows based on existing data, evidence, experiences.
The Explorer: The Known-Unknowns
This type of work is about working on things that we are aware we don’t know. They represent boundaries of our current knowledge and highlight areas we need to seek information, gather design, or conduct additional studies to expand our understanding. Think: guided or parameter-based experimentations like in drug-discovery, or code-breaking.
The Crossover: The Unknown-Knowns
These would be using the skills, expertise, and insights that we have acquired in a particular domain, in a different one. Think: problem-solving, drawing insights through analogous experiences or concepts.
The Artist: The Unknown-Unknowns
These are the boundary-pushing type of work that extends outside of our current realm of understanding, awareness, and practices. They can manifest as the unexpected, or the “aha”, and can bring new paradigms to bear. Think: re-designing products or processes from inside-out.
Which “types of work” do you find yourself doing more of? Where are there opportunities to leverage AI, and where are there new opportunities to re-design and build in a creative way?