"Are machines going to take over?"

That is the first question Nigel Latta asked me last week, as I sat in front a television camera.

“How do we prepare for a future where something will replace us?"

This is the type of question I get from law firms contacting me, asking for my help.

With the growth of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and teachers potentially being replaced by AI, I get asked

“Is the future of schools?”

Thinking about these (often) media-sensationalized, technology-forced destinations, it seems incomprehensible at best and dystopian at worst. Neither of these views are helpful or productive.

Correction. They are productive. They produce:

  1. A dramatic increase in fear
  2. A palpable sense of uncertainty

In 1943, Abraham Maslow presented a theory in psychology suggesting that for us to lead full, complete, and happy lives there are fundamental needs that need to be met in an increasing hierarchy.

It is understandably called "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs".

For us to tell ourselves dark stories that the future of technology is a destination out of the Terminator movies or where a substantial number of us lose and cannot find new jobs, it is psychologically crippling.

Not only does the fear and uncertainty negatively impact our safety and security foundation, but for some people (often business-owners) the fear and uncertainty has affected their physiological needs, like sleep. This is not healthy nor is it sustainable.

Now, I understand that technology and rate of change cannot be ignored, but my journey over the 2 years has been trying to re-frame this concept of technology and how we actually deal with it. That is my mission.

Technology is a tool, not a destination.

So when I speak to my clients, the first thing I ask is try is to hold onto these words, because as long as they are fearful and uncertain, they're paralyzed from thinking about their future in a positive light.

The second thing I ask them to do, is to tell me why their company exists. Let me explain.

Many of you will recognize this Golden Circle. If you don’t, it is a concept created by Simon Sinek, a well-known public speaker and author.

The golden circle has three layers:

  1. WHY is the core belief of the business. It's why the business exists. It is the core belief about themselves.
  2. The middle layer represents HOW the business fulfills that core belief.
  3. The outer layer is WHAT the company does to fulfill that core belief and is often the final result.

The theory is that most companies function from the outside in.

I'm going to continue the example of a law firm, because ROSS the AI Laywer is being hired by more and more companies every day. So, when it re-appears on the news, you'll have some context.

If I ask a legacy law firm to tell me about their company, they might say:

  • We are a law firm (WHAT)
  • We provide specialist legal services through high impact legal teams (HOW)

And if I ask them why they exist they might say:

  • We believe we exist to offer our clients the best legal advice, service, and results

Well, I'm sorry. That is still a WHAT, not a why.

When you are that type of law firm and you see an article like the one below the fear of an AI lawyer is VERY real.

In fact, this AI may actually provide far better legal advice, with answers to your legal questions carefully curated from a giant, global pool of trial information, defense and prosecution strategies, and legal documentation.

When we go back to the legacy law firm’s golden circle, we become quite confident that AI will replace them. For that firm, suddenly everything falls apart. Without a change to the why, their future looks extremely bleak.

But, let's try an inside-out approach with a future-proofed law firm.

In this law firm, they believe everyone has the right to fair, equitable treatment and legal representation because people matter, regardless of their circumstances and even if they may have made a mistake.

Even without digital transformation, this company can still provide legal services through high impact legal teams, and it can still be a law firm. However, when AI comes along, it doesn’t jeopardize the law firm's why…it actually helps to enable it.

Instead of offering legal services, they now have team members who partner with AI to help execute outstanding legal recommendations.

And they are no longer just a law firm, they are legal concierge.

Suddenly, the threat of disruption and something like AI doesn’t seem so scary...because the why still matters. Technology is simply the tool to achieve their why to a level far higher than before. They can strip away any fear and uncertainty of the future, because whichever way this goes, their company's existence is no longer at risk.

Whether you're a business, a department, or an individual experiencing fear and uncertainty about the future of technology, this guiding principle will still apply.

You see, your WHY is unique to you. You may or may not have figured it our yet, but I’m sure working on it…and you might be quite close.

While you're figuring that out, I want to stress that with the Internet (information) and technology (tools), there is more ‘how’ available to you than ever before.

You have more power to craft your future, your ‘how’ and ‘what’ to serve your ‘why’, than your parents, grandparents, and all your elders before you.

So, instead of thinking about technology being another thing you need to learn, another thing to fear, I urge you to re-frame your paradigm.

  • How can technology fuel your why?
  • How can technology help you do more of the things you love, and less of the things you don’t?
  • How can technology help you become the person or company you were meant to become?

And if the technology you need to do those things doesn’t exist yet, build it. You have that power.

But if there is only one message you take away from this article today, it is that whatever happens, do not become a paralyzed victim to the dark story playing over and over in the news and on the movies.

In that paralysis of fear and uncertainty, you miss the most important factor that no one else talks about:

You get to build your future. You, right now. And together we have the power the craft a whole new story

Because in reality, technology is your tool - you get to choose your destination.