In the face of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we need a new radical humanism, says Tim Leberecht. For the self-described “business romantic,” this means designing organizations and workplaces that celebrate authenticity instead of efficiency and questions instead of answers. Leberecht proposes four (admittedly subjective) principles for building beautiful organizations.

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Half of the human workforce is expected to be replaced by software and robots in the next 20 years,” Tim Leberecht begins his TED talk. “Many corporate leaders welcome that as a chance to increase profits.  Machines are more efficient; humans are complicated and difficult to manage.”  Ouch! That hurts.

But it’s true. Whether we call it the Second Machine Age or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we’re talking about the same, sobering prospect – the continued, accelerated blending of artificial and human intelligence – and the impact it has on our lives and our livelihoods.

So, what are we complicated and difficult humans supposed to do about this prospect? “Create beauty,” Leberecht proposes.

“I want organizations to remain human.  In fact, I want them to become beautiful.  Because as machines take our jobs and do them more efficiently, soon the only work left for us humans will be the kind of work that must be done beautifully rather than efficiently.  To maintain our humanity in this Second Machine Age, we have no other choice than to create beauty.”

Leberecht goes on to give us “four admittedly very subjective principles…to build a beautiful organization.”  His principles are quite beautiful themselves – refreshing concepts like “Do the Unnecessary” and “Create Intimacy.”  These principles offer a contrast to the usual profit-and-loss approach to business.  Instead, Leberecht’s principles focus on values and needs that distinguish us from the machine and that, when encouraged and utilized, can advance organizations in ways only humans can do.

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