4 Ways To Be Useful and Stave off Irrelevance from Machines

humans vs robots

Every revolution brings about change. The Next Economy will be driven by 10 key technologies that intersect to create one massive meta trend, underpinned by artificial intelligence.

If A.I. reaches the point were it is truly autonomous, it might be the last invention humanity will create. As awesome as that sounds, most people are afraid of the implications for a world dominated by A.I.: we’ll lose our jobs.

Then what?

Technology has always eliminated and displaced jobs, but its also created new ones. Predicting with complete certainty what those new jobs are going to be is a tough nut to crack, it’s up to us to create those jobs.


Before I tell you how, understand a few things about A.I.:

  • At this point A.I. has an advantage in productivity for specific tasks, not where complexity dominates; such as problem solving and collaboration.
  • We’re creating A.I. in our own image; that means it’s going to be as biased as we are until it begins thinking on its own.
  • A.I. deployment is still very limited and specific.
  • It’s not about humans versus robots. A.I. enhances us, it doesn’t replace us.


We won’t run out of work till we run out of problems

That’s a quote from Tim O’reilly’s White House Frontiers Conference presentation about of the future. If we let machines put us out of work, it will be because of a failure of imagination and a lack of will to make a better future!


Everything is ripe for innovation because human error is ubiquitous. Less understood is that every innovation has unintended consequences, hard to predict and deal with. That’s one way you can bet on more problems arising in the future. Also, rarely does a single solution solve a problem.

Great, how do we stave off irrelevance?

The same way we’ve done it for ages: Focus on solving known, expected and unexpected problems, challenges and hassles.

Solve for:


Inconvenience is the mother of innovation. There are hassles and inconveniences everywhere, some we’ve accepted to be the way things are. For example, parents that pick up their kids at school have accepted that they’ll wait for a while; that’s an inconvenience that I aim to solve.

There’s always a way to make things faster, cheaper and easier. Start looking for problems that people complain about every day and take note of the little annoyances all around you. They are easier to overlook than you’d think.


Every organization and institution has inefficiencies, for example doing unnecessary paperwork, not having the right information about a particular customer. These are all headaches we encounter when interacting with institutions or businesses.

We are living in the Age of Efficiency, an A.I. dominated world where computing will make our lives more efficient by anticipating our next move. As an entrepreneur, this a wave we’ll be in for the foreseeable future.

Take note of the time, money, and effort wasted in every task you undertake. If you can find a way to do it faster, more easily, or less expensively, you’ll have a marketplace for your product.


What’s inevitable? Do we want transportation costs to be higher? No. Do we want to pay more for our food? No. Do we want to keep using unnecessary energy? No.

Emerging startups are making it their mission to make it so all these things are cheaper in the future. How? A key trend driving the next economy is how the downward cost of processing power, storage, bandwidth, devices, and data is enabling new technologies to get adopted much faster creating new value propositions and markets.

The future will be different, that’s a fact. How different depends on what we do today.

Solve your own problems

Lastly, create what you’d like existed in the world. We all have pressing problems we need solved but nobody has created a solution for, solve it; it is very like other people have the same problem and will benefit from your solution.

Be useful today to be useful tomorrow, it’s not rocket science. It’s not about us versus them, it’s about us versus us. We need to get out of our own way to consider the possibilities technology enables us to create with added help.

It’s hard for most people to imagine a better world when they’re not technologists. You don’t have to be one to imagine possibilities, just pay attention because problems are everywhere; everything is ripe for innovation.

Innovation is about better outcomes, and the best innovators are needs seekers. They don’t necessarily notice needs before anyone else. They just fulfill those needs better than anyone else. Get tone and learn to notice needs. Don’t take it for granted that what already exists is perfect in every way and that we’ll be out of problems if and when A.I. surpasses us in intelligence. We won’t.

Also published on Medium.