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Modern technology has, without a doubt, reduced the need for as many people on factory floors, behind the counter at banks and in so many areas, across industries and occupations. Factory floors and warehouses are now being operated by robots. In fact — those robots, in the case of Tesla, are also being made by robots!
But machines will never replace the need for the human in the equation. It has been thought that AI would replace humans working in jobs that require high levels of cognitive functioning. The reality we’re seeing in many cases now, is that when humans and AI work together, they improve each other.
Garry Kasparov, the chess grandmaster who famously lost a game to IBM‘s Deep Blue computer in 1997, coined the term “Centaur” for these kinds of partnerships between humans and AI. Kasparov was referring to instances where humans and artificial intelligence learn from each other how to play better chess, but the same idea applies to business.
According to a Harvard Business Review report, companies see the biggest performance improvements when humans and machines work together, complementing each other. Things that are second nature to the human brain, like interpersonal communication, are (at least for the time being) perplexing for even the most sophisticated AI. At the same time, wrangling huge amounts of data is virtually impossible for the average human.
But what does the interaction between humans and AI mean for people starting their own business? AI has been revolutionizing business across the board for some time. More recently, several tools have been developed to bring the power of AI collaborating with human intelligence into the hands of self-employed people of all kinds. Below are five freelance professions being transformed by AI.
Even the art world has begun to capitalize on the potential that human-AI collaboration offers. Argentine artist Sofia Crespo is part of the “generative art” movement, which creates works of art with the help of artificial intelligence. She creates rules for computers, and then the computers make use of algorithms to generate new forms and patterns. What is considered good contemporary art is forever under debate, but generative art is starting to attract significant interest from art collectors and a few hefty selling prices at auction.
2. Freelance writers
Lightkey is an AI-based writing tool that freelance copywriters and marketing professionals use to speed up the process of generating content without losing creativity or accuracy. The app uses AI to learn each writer’s unique style and typing patterns to generate predictive text on a level not seen before. So, writers can write the way they normally would, only faster.
In this instance, the human user can always see what the AI is generating, making this tool an example of AI and humans working together to effectively double-check for errors and constantly offer ways to help each other improve upon their abilities.
3. Social media creators
A promising avenue where humans and AI work in synergy is social media, where the collaboration is upping the social media game of creators and influencers. While AI in apps like Lately searches for content relevant to an influencer’s strategy — and even posts it — the influencer is managing the app like a digital assistant, accepting or rejecting suggested content, which allows the app to learn and refine those very suggestions.
For many tasks, the human/AI collaboration involves AI helping get the process started, saving valuable time that the human can then use to polish the final product to perfection. The first stage of the editing process for professional photographers, for example, is usually a culling process, where the best shots are picked from a slew of images imported to the computer. This selection process can take hours, and I’ve heard photographers say this is the most grueling part of their job. It’s also the easiest part to apply AI. Adobe’s “Best Photos” feature in Lightroom CC uses AI to identify the strongest photos in a series of similar images, avoiding human error and saving time. This lets the artist swoop in and focus on in-depth editing work on only the best photos.
5. Software developers
To be expected, AI is having an impact on the work of software developers, too. In a decidedly meta way, AI can actually help with the process of writing code. Maybe one day, AI will be able to write code on its own, but that day is years away at best, and even when it does come, collaboration with humans will still be essential to success. Products like JetBrains allow developers to assign repetitive programming tasks to AI machines, so they can focus on other tasks. The industry is finding that this actually allows developers to evolve their skill sets in ways that help them work more collaboratively with AI.
Some of the most useful tools combine AI and humans to benefit freelancers and self-employed individuals in almost any industry. One of the defining features of life as a self-employed person is the need for impeccable time management skills. Working on several projects at once is usually necessary to keep the lights on, and the more trivial tasks that can be “outsourced” to AI, the more time freelancers have to focus on the work that matters most. Futurenda’s AI develops a dynamic calendar that manages a freelancer’s deadlines and adjusts timelines as needed, so users can be more productive and get things done on time.
We pair a powerful AI tax engine with a team of tax CPAs. FlyFin’s AI scans the self-employed users’ linked account statements to find and suggest every possible tax deduction that could benefit them. Then users accept or reject those recommendations to help the AI learn their specific business expense trends. The human element extends to the CPAs who answer users’ tax questions and also prepare and review the tax return being filed.
AI has made an unmistakable impact in every industry and has proven it’s here to stay, but in many cases, it performs even better with the help of humans. That synergy allows us to take advantage of AI’s full potential to make a true difference in the lives of people working for themselves, like freelancers.
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