Humans Are Underrated | Geoff Colvin

Summary of: Humans Are Underrated: Proving Your Value in the Age of Brilliant Technology
By: Geoff Colvin


In the age of brilliant technology, humans may feel overwhelmed by the rapid advancements in computing power. ‘Humans Are Underrated’ by Geoff Colvin explores how humans can still prove their value despite the rise of artificial intelligence. This book summary delves into the ways our increasing reliance on screens affects our social skills, why empathy is crucial in the business world and other aspects of our lives, the importance of teamwork, storytelling, and harnessing our unique human creative skills. Get ready to learn how to develop your empathy, sharpen your social skills, and discover the still irreplaceable value of humans in this digital age.

Limitations of Human Intelligence

Moore’s law predicts that computer power will double every two years, while human brain power will not. The law suggests that computers will eventually become infinitesimally powerful but will be limited by physical constraints. Computers are now able to perform tasks that require human-level emotional intelligence with a significantly higher accuracy rate. Psychologist Paul Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System makes this clear, with computers efficiently detecting 85 percent of emotions through facial expressions while trained humans detect only 55 percent. As a result, human intelligence should not be compared to computer intelligence as we may fall short in many areas.

Tech addiction and its impact on social skills

The overuse of screens negatively affects social skills and empathy, as humans are meant to connect through personal interaction rather than through virtual means. Researchers discovered a significant increase in emotional understanding when sixth-graders spent five screen-free days in camp. Social media bonding is less effective than face-to-face interactions, leading to teenagers having weaker relationships with their peers and parents. Social media users become less trusting, affecting the quality of their relationships. While technology has its benefits, we must be cautious when using it as social skills are essential in today’s world.

The Shifting Value of Human Skills

In the age of computers, human skills like social abilities hold more significance since technology has already replaced our capability to store and analyze information. Social skills enable lawyers, particularly, to build connections with clients and help them decide what’s best for them. While social skills have always been vital, they’re becoming increasingly crucial, as people from different cultures interact more and often misunderstand one another. If used wisely, social skills have immense potential, as evident from how American soldiers were safely extracted from potentially hostile Iraqis through body language.

The Power of Empathy in Business

Empathy is a vital element in building meaningful relationships both in personal and business interactions. American Express adopted this concept by giving their call-center workers the freedom to act as they deemed fit, providing a more personalized experience for customers. The result was a higher recommendation score, increased profit margins, and a 50% reduction in employee attrition rate. Empathy consists of understanding the thoughts and feelings of others and reacting appropriately. This skill can be learned by everyone and, unlike computers, will never be replaced as we are hardwired to only accept empathy in its most potent form from fellow humans.

The Importance of Social Sensitivity in Building Successful Teams

Have you ever been part of a team where things just didn’t click? The success of a team depends on many factors, but social sensitivity, or the social abilities of the team members, is key. This is what Paul Azinger, coach of the US golf team, discovered when he assembled a team of players whose personalities would best fit together, instead of just choosing the players with the best skills. As a result, the team won one of the biggest US wins in the past 25 years. In the scientific research and business worlds, teamwork is also essential for success. The most influential scientific work is generally conducted by teams, allowing each member to specialize in specific topics and break into new territory faster. In the business world, entire teams are usually running a company, and this team composition is critical for success today. No grand idea was ever born in a conference, said F. Scott Fitzgerald, but today, he might be wrong. Teamwork is crucial for the success of any organization.

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