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Is robotic, artificial intelligence something you find a bit scary and intangible? Are you concerned you’re at risk of being replaced by a robot?

Then why are you behaving as if you are one?

As we enter the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution, fearing the rise of the machine misses the point that we’ve been treating ourselves as robots for a while, programming ourselves to run increasingly on autopilot, reacting to every tweet, ping, “you’ve got mail” alert as if our lives depend on it.

We have created a culture that expects success to arrive only through hard work and effort, so naturally, you have to keep pushing harder and for longer, because how else will you keep up and have any chance of getting ahead of the competition?

The problem is, we’re not designed to operate this way.

Robotic behaviour is making us sick.

Driving ourselves into the ground like this is resulting in higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Statistics from the UK and elsewhere reveal how disregarding these warning signs means we are putting ourselves at increased risk of overwhelm, burnout and exhaustion, impacting our health, relationships and performance.

Trying to compete with AI is an unwinnable competition. Machines are far faster and accurate than humans and have already learned intuition skills that exceed ours, with emotional intelligence skills not far behind.

The risk isn’t that we will be replaced by a machine.

The risk is us if we fail to maintain adequate control of our AI or embrace the opportunities it presents.

It will come down to how well we think.

Being human, not robot, what’s needed is the right environment to allow your thinking skills to flourish, and your cognitive health is key to this. Because while robotic behaviours enable you to conserve mental energy and access some very useful mental shortcuts, retaining good access to your conscious mind for higher order thinking; learning, planning, organising and decision-making is what provides the mental flexibility, agility and innovation required to meet the needs of the 21st-century workplace.

Thinking is the new black.

It’s about taking the time to slow down our thoughts to think more deeply, creatively, and critically.

Staying human means it’s important to spend time on your cognition and brain health by getting enough sleep, physical exercise, choosing healthy nutrition and adopting healthy stress. This is by far more effective than popping down to Bunnings on a Saturday for a spare can of WD-40 to try and keep your rusty cogwheels of thought turning more smoothly.

Enjoying higher performance thinking relates to enjoying better brain health along with good access to conscious thought via the prefrontal cortex.
Your mighty subconscious mind also enjoys greater innovation, creativity and insight when coupled with better brain health.

It’s just that when we’re too busy, stressed or tired we resort to operating in survival mode that can lead to relying too much on those robotic behaviours that lead to greater thoughtlessness, and greater risk of accident and injury.

Similarly, at the conscious level, it becomes harder to find the motivation, interest or energy, so we switch off, i.e. disengage.

Re-developing the lost art of great thinking takes practice and effort. Fortunately, the brain science now provides a handy manual that has revealed what works best.

Testing for cognitive ability is quickly becoming the new norm, along with continual learning and practising those positive traits that contribute to our humanity; caring for others, being kind, compassionate, generous and empathetic.

Your best work will come from stretching your mental muscle to new heights, embracing change and staying curious to what our new 4IR might look like.

Is robotic behaviour holding you back?
What steps are you taking to switch off from autopilot and boost your cognitive health?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and internationally board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, workplace health and wellbeing consultant, podcaster, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book 'Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life' (Wiley) is available online and at all good bookstores.

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