The productivity or creativity dilemma

Published in El Pais, 29 May 2021.

By excellence, humanity always seeks to increase its productivity, whether in work or personal tasks, this desire has led to the development of a myriad of innovations that we enjoy today and has been confronted, due to the risk of extinction of many job sources.

The great advances in artificial intelligence and automation make, that manual and repetitive tasks are replaced by an algorithm or a robot, more efficient and less expensive than a human. Some of the professionals exposed are lawyers, accountants, and even doctors. Technological developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence are increasingly efficient compared to a human. In the aforementioned professions, a robot would have the ability to review a large number of legal files, evaluate them and determine the best option, in a matter of minutes or seconds, unlike a human, who for the same task would require an army of people and an unimaginable time. In the same way doctors are threatened, the ability to evaluate clinical records in real time and give a diagnosis with a high percentage of success is a reality.

Some experts predicted that artificial intelligence and automation would take more than half of human jobs in 15 years; this time is most likely to be shortened as a result of the pandemic. So the question is, what do we have left? Humans have a distinctive and exclusive trait, creativity.

A few years ago and in other cases nowadays, when they were inclined towards a profession related to art, the premise was the same, you will not find a job. In art we find nothing more and nothing less than creativity; If we understand art as a form of expression, a part of creativity is expression.

Throughout history creativity is the resource we use to solve problems. The enhancement of creativity in some parts of the world allowed great scientific or technological advances from which we currently benefit. There is no algorithm that can replicate creativity, it is an exclusive human trait. We must give it more space in our lives, starting with the education of our children, in schools creativity programs should be developed, with content such as color theory or design, to form creative critical thinking and not as we have come so far in a traditional academic system of memorizing concepts.

From all the negative that the pandemic leaves, we can rescue that it forced us to retrain ourselves to acquire new skills. This can be summarized as a creative process, this process of developing new skills and being creative should be part of an economic reactivation plan. Traditional business systems provide tools that increase productivity, this only triggers automation, in many cases reducing true competitiveness, which will imply many failures. If we want to avoid this, we must provide employees with tools to develop their creativity. In the end, tedious tasks are incomparable with those that are unique and that allow us to connect and express ourselves.

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