We recently spoke with Arianna Huffington, our Keynote Speaker at HR Tech World in Amsterdam, about her latest venture, Thrive Global, as well as her thoughts on the Future of Work and technology. This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring Arianna, leading up to our Amsterdam show. Haven’t bought your ticket yet? You can still purchase your tickets here.

The second post in our series delves into Arianna’s thoughts on the Future of Work and how technology has and will affect society and the world of work.

Technology has truly revolutionized society and the world of work over the past decade, and the pace looks set to accelerate with the use of artificial intelligence and blockchains.  How do you see the future of work shaping up?  What sort of world of work do you think the next generation will experience? 

The increase in automation and AI, what some are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is obviously going to bring profound changes. In the workplace, it’s going to create a premium on essential human qualities like creativity, intuition, and wisdom. The paradox is that these are the exact qualities that are impaired by our addiction to technology. So our ability to build our resilience for the technology-dominated workplace of the future depends, in no small measure, on our ability to – right now — recalibrate and take control of our lives and our relationship with technology.

As more organizations start to adopt social media as a means of both internal and external communication we get greater transparency and it changes the traditional dynamic for managers and leaders. How do you feel about this and what are the qualities we need to be looking for and nurturing in leaders as we go forward into the future? 

Social media has obvious uses, but there’s no substitute for face-to-face communication. It strengthens our empathy, and by enhancing collaboration it also fuels creativity. And our over-reliance on social media and addiction to our screens is a problem not just at work. It’s easy to allow our screens to fill all of our time, but there’s an opportunity cost to losing that connection with ourselves and with our family and friends.

Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates among many others have been especially vocal about the dangers of artificial intelligence and intelligent robots etc.  What’s your own view on all this, and do you have any thoughts on how we can maximize the benefits of technology without becoming slaves to it? 

Actually, I recently wrote a piece about this, which I think is the most important conversation we should be having. That’s because we won’t have a second chance to get this right. The rapid advances in AI should be forcing us to think about what we think of as essentially and uniquely human – about what is sacred and irreducible about our humanity, and how can we redraw and protect the borders of that humanity as technology is mounting a full-scale invasion.

And to do this – to focus on the big picture and the long-term — we’ll need to learn how to disconnect in the short-term, because the resources we need in order to rise to this challenge – wisdom, creativity, intuition, reflection and thoughtful decision-making – are the very things we’re losing access to with our addiction to our screens and devices.

So maximizing the benefits of technology means disentangling wisdom from intelligence. In our era of Big Data and algorithms, they’re easy to conflate. But the truth is that we’re drowning in data and starved for wisdom.