April 28, 2023

Our “second life” in a post-AI world

Since the recent AI explosion, my colleagues and I have been constantly researching and even introducing AI into many of our workflows. In the process, a clearer picture emerges in our minds of a post-AI world where people needn’t spend so much time working and can enjoy a “second life” – or a life not focused on work – well ahead of retirement.

The World Economic Forum predicted that by 2025, more than half of the world’s work will be performed by machines and AI. And just this past April, Nobel economics laureate and London School of Economics professor Christopher Pissarides suggested AI will significantly increase human work proficiency and push society closer towards a “four-day work week” model. 

These predictions have kicked off an intriguing discussion: if in the future we only need to work four days or less per week, how will we arrange our second life? In my view, there are a few key things we should be thinking about and preparing for. 

First, we need to be upskilling and unlearning. AI speeds up work efficiency by automating many tedious and low-skill tasks, which poses a concern for many white collar workers. Only if we cultivate skills that are difficult for AI to replicate such as creativity, strategic thinking, leadership, and decision-making can we maintain competitiveness and therefore enjoy the convenience afforded by AI. AI is also set to overturn many existing work models and processes, which means we need to have the mental flexibility to constantly unlearn and relearn skills.  

Second is how we demonstrate our professional value. When efficiency is taken care of by AI, our value becomes our key differentiator in the talent pool, such as possessing the insight to find new business opportunities, managing teams more effectively, or proposing unique ideas. These kinds of workers will be best equipped to use AI tools to truly grow productivity and reduce work hours.  

The third area applies to interdisciplinary skills or life skills. Different people will use the time freed up by AI in different ways: some might consider taking on a second job, some may use it for leisure activities, while others might find a sudden surplus of time difficult to manage. Both skill sets will be important to cultivating an effective second life.

What would your second life in a post-AI world look like? I’d love to read your responses in the comments!

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