The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in machine learning and natural language processing technologies will have a huge impact media, advertising, retail, finance, and healthcare industries in the near future. Gartner claims that 85% of all customer interactions won't require human customer service reps by the end of this decade.

You may be thinking creativity makes you robot proof, because robots cannot be creative, but that notion is no longer true. A composer told me recently his work as a carpenter is robot-proof not his career as a composer. IBM's Watson has co-produced a movie trailer with 20th Century Fox. The Painting Fool, a computer program, has been taught to recognize human emotion, and respond accordingly. A team of Microsoft researchers have taught the computer to analyze the work of Rembrandt before producing an original painting in the same style, and printing it in 3D to give it the same texture as an oil painting.

You may argue that robots cannot make complex decisions, but we now have AI judges weighing legal evidence and moral questions of right and wrong to accurately predict the result in hundreds of real life cases.

How will we compete with robots?

We will always need heart and soul human connections in the workplace. Dov Seidman, C.E.O. of LRN in a New York Times article said,

"Our highest self-conception needs to be redefined from "I think, therefore I am" to "I care, therefore I am; I hope, therefore I am; I imagine, therefore I am. I am ethical, therefore I am. I have a purpose, therefore I am. I pause and reflect, therefore I am."

Marty Neumeier, branding expert and author of Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age, says these five metaskills--these highly human abilities--are the best bulwark against business or career obsolescence."

  1. Feeling: empathy & intuition
  2. Seeing: seeing how the parts fit the whole picture (a.k.a. systems thinking)
  3. Dreaming: applied imagination, to think of something new
  4. Making: Creativity, design, prototyping and testing
  5. Learning: learning how to learn (the opposable thumb of all other Metaskills)

These skills are at the heart of human-centered design thinking, and complement the five discovery skills of outperforming disruptive innovators identified in the Innovator's DNA: Questioning, observing, associating, experimenting and networking.

Where are you on the Robot Curve?

Neumeier's Robot Curve is a simple model of innovation that shows how new processes, businesses, and technologies continuously destroy old ones as they create new opportunities for wealth. Where are you positioned on the robot curve, and how can you optimize your business or career? There are two ways you can optimize: 1) By keeping your skills or products moving toward the top of the curve, or 2) by designing or managing skills or products at the bottom of the curve.

"Learnability" could save your job - and your company

"It's time to take a fresh look at how we motivate, develop and retain employees. In this environment, learnability - the desire and capability to develop in-demand skills to be employable for the long-term - is the hot ticket to success for employers and individuals alike," says Mara Swan, Executive Vice President, Global Strategy and Talent, Manpower Group in her World Economic Forum article

To ensure you and your kids are robot-proof, make it a habit to keep learning. Activate your curiosity by cultivating a wide range of interests. Don't just read; try out new experiences outside your comfort zone. Nothing awakens your senses more than taking a leap into the unknown and making new discoveries.

Published on: Feb 21, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.