Tomorrow’s intelligence or Homo Laborus

Tomorrow’s intelligence or Homo Laborus

Alain Roch

Alain E. Roch, MBA

President and CEO

In a recent article[1], I put forth the question of how Artificial Intelligence in Medicine (AIM) would have handled the coronavirus pandemic. What would AIM have considered more important—the health of thousands of individuals or keeping billions fully employed? Although the obvious answer to this question is enough to send shivers down my spine, the development of AI and its presence in our daily lives is clearly even more alarming.

While the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in putting large-scale teleworking to the ultimate test, this pales in comparison to the complete overhaul the job market and the economy is sure to face in the coming decades as humans are slowly replaced by AI.

So, what exactly is AI? According to the Oxford Dictionary, Artificial Intelligence is “a set of theories and techniques used to create machines capable of simulating human intelligence” (Oxford Dictionary, 2020).

The impending reality of ever-evolving AI is sure to force workers to adapt and be forced to continually reinvent themselves. So, while my father may have worked doing the same job for the same company for 35 years straight, and my generation is expected to go through at least three or four different employers while doing more or less the same job until we retire, my own children (and my children’s children) are likely to experience a different reality altogether, perhaps having numerous employers and learning new trades or jobs throughout their lives.

If you think AI will only replace taxi drivers, bus drivers, welders, garbage collectors and the like, think again. The truth is that even white-collar workers are likely to find themselves jobless as a result of AI! Indeed, anyone who is involved in any form of data analysis is at risk in the very short term. Your daughter wants to become a judge? It might be a good idea to convince her otherwise! Your son dreams of a career as a  physician? Push him in another direction! And, whatever you do, make sure your child steers clear of studying to become a journalist, notary, translator or secretary.[2]

This so-called “technological disruption,” described by Historian Yuval Noah Harari in his book entitled 21 lessons for the 21st Century[3], calls into question the very foundations of humanity and the global economy.

AI has clearly already invaded our daily lives. Each of the searches we conduct on the Internet, each of the messages we send on the Web and each of the pictures we post on social media helps AI “understand” humans and get better and better at imitating them.

Historians will soon consider AI more intelligent than any human being, and AI’s knowledge of neural mechanisms will enable it to understand and “hack” personal choices.

No matter how you look at it, there is no escaping AI. Although it is, in principle, possible to resist it, it is surely better to learn how to adapt to AI. So, how exactly does one do that? Even if we cannot predict what the future holds for today’s young people, it would be best to avoid preparing them for the same careers and jobs we know today[4]. Truly, the best option is to help children learn how to adapt.

The truth is that young people are being taught as though the jobs they will have 30 years from now will be the same ones that exist today. In reality, the job market will have profoundly changed. Computer science and programming are still not considered an essential part of the curriculum. History and geography continue to take precedence over  computer programming and software development even though it is obvious that the latter hold the key to the versatility our children need to reinvent themselves throughout their careers.

While AI will dramatically change the working world and prove detrimental to those who are not able to adapt, it could also potentially add $13 trillion to the global GDP by 2030, according to a study published by McKinsey[5].

One particular American consulting firm has evaluated the consequences of AI—whether in the form of  machine learning, image recognition, natural language processing, virtual assistants, robotics and task chain automation—and found that these technologies could actually increase the economic value created by all countries in the world by 1.2% per year.

The main risk when it comes to the progression of AI is that our stakeholders continue to focus only on the positive economic consequences of this inevitable revolution and neglect to upgrade humans.

Homo Laborus (essentially — Human Version 2.0) must come onto the scene if human beings are to continue existing in this new world.

Word to the wise…



[1] We are not alone in the world,

[2] Quelle est la prochaine vraie technologie disruptive ? Jean-Pierre Leac

[3] 21 leçons pour le XXIe siècle, Yuval Noah Harari, Albin Michel, 2018

[4] Osons l’AI à l’école, Ugo Cavenaghi and Isabelle Senécal, Édition Château d’Encre, 2019

[5] Notes from the frontier: modeling the impact of AI on the world economy; McKinsey & Company, 2019