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Humans are Underrated

What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will

By Geoff Colvin
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Humans are Underrated by Geoff Colvin

How is the rapidly developing world of computers going to affect our jobs in the future? In Humans Are Underrated (2015), Geoff Colvin explores the ways in which computers will surpass us, and the ways they won’t. He reveals which skills you should build to remain economically viable, and how you can turn the monster of technology to your advantage.

Key idea 1 of 9

Don’t compare yourself to a computer, because you will lose.

Wouldn’t it be nice to increase your brain power by 100 percent every two years? Impossible, you say.

But not for computers.

According to Moore’s law, IT systems increase their computing power by 100 percent every two years. In the long run, that’s a big increase. For example, Sony’s first transistor radio had five transistors and would barely fit into a pocket. Today, Intel’s latest processor has five billion transistors and it fits in the palm of your hand.

So, will computers become infinitely powerful?

Not quite. Eventually Moore’s law will end due to sheer physical limitations: you can only fit a finite number of transistors in a certain space. But until that time, you’d better not compare your brain power to a computer.

In fact, nowadays computers can surpass us in tasks we usually think are uniquely human.

For example, computers can detect emotions more effectively than humans. Paul Ekman, a famous psychologist, discovered micro-expressions: the minimal movements in your 40 facial muscles that lead to certain expressions. After many years of research, Ekman figured out which of 3,000 different micro-expressions is connected to which emotion. The result is his Facial Action Coding System.

This is how it works: If you put all this emotional data into a computer equipped with a camera, and point it at a human face, the computer can correctly detect the emotion 85 percent of the time. Whereas humans, even with training, got it right only 55 percent of the time!

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