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Collaborative Intelligence: Humans and AI in Harmony

Profile photo of Martyn McDermott.

By Martyn McDermott

5 min read

A man standing in a boulevard of trees that are intertwined with technology, illustrating nature and technology coexisting and thriving

We're firmly encapsulated in an era where generative AI is transforming industries and democratising technical skills. And for now, the commentary spotlight is generally focused solely on the machine. However, it's essential not to lose sight of something crucial: achieving artificial intelligence isn't the endgame. What we do with it to amplify our humanity is.

I believe that, far from rendering human discernment, wisdom, or critical thinking obsolete, AI makes our human powers more crucial than ever. Your ability to exercise sound judgment will be your competitive edge in a world that's quickly incorporating AI into its fabric.

So, let's explore what you can do to best leverage this powerful combination of AI and human ingenuity.

Skills that make us and AI a dream team

AI is excellent for extracting insights from large datasets and automating tedious, repetitive tasks, and it's getting more skilled as days go by. But it will always lack the nuances that make us uniquely human. Think creativity, ethics, and that gut feeling you get sometimes. These human attributes are not redundant in the age of AI; they are, in fact, more critical than ever.

So, what human skills should you be doubling down on to stay ahead of the game?


AI doesn't understand emotional undertones. But you can. Empathy enables us to connect on a human level, making products and services more user-centric.


AI excels in crunching numbers but can't replicate our gut feelings, often leading us to innovative solutions. Intuition fills that gap by enabling quick decisions based on experience and inherent understanding.


AI can generate content or designs based on pre-existing templates but can't truly innovate. Human creativity is the catalyst required for those entirely new ideas, services, or products.

Ethics and moral compass

As powerful as AI is, it can't make ethically nuanced decisions. A solid human moral compass is crucial, especially when the data says one thing, but your gut says another.

Emotional intelligence

AI cannot sense the room, adapt to people's emotional states, or foster meaningful relationships. Your EQ is what makes your team and client relationships solid.


While machine learning allows AI systems to learn from data, they can't adapt to entirely new situations or think outside their programmed box. Human adaptability is crucial for navigating uncharted territories. Sometimes, we just need to wing it!

Visionary thinking

AI works within the boundaries of what it's been programmed to know. Visionary thinking enables humans to dream big, set long-term goals, and inspire others to achieve them.

AI and its subsets are evolving rapidly. While keeping up is crucial, focusing on human attributes complementing AI is a surefire strategy for sustainable growth.

By nurturing these human qualities, we and our organisations can create a robust, balanced ecosystem where artificial and human intelligence harmoniously co-exist to achieve greater heights. Collaborative intelligence if you like.

What must we do to make this human-AI relationship work?

Right now, the most important thing is to let people learn about and get comfortable with the tech.

Are fluid hierarchies a must for AI adoption?

I advocate for a more fluid learning structure in an era where AI tools are increasingly integrated into everyday tasks. Leaders should encourage a fluid hierarchy where trust and open communication sparks bottom-up innovation.

The term "fluid hierarchies" might sound jargon-y, but essentially, it's all about agility in decision-making.

I'm not suggesting that whole organisational structures be disrupted just yet. But with regards to the adoption of AI, bearing in mind the speed of change happening all around us, it's essential to empower all team members from the ground level up to experiment, without fear, with AI tools. The intuitive ways that people will utilise AI in their workplaces will bubble up through the organisation and accelerate AI learning, adoption and innovation, as opposed to them being limited by top-down mandates.

Leaders must create a safe environment where team members feel empowered to explore and apply AI in novel ways.

Quick wins:

  1. Pilot Small AI Projects: Let your team experiment with AI on a small scale.

  2. Cross-Functional Teams: Mix AI experts with domain specialists.

  3. Feedback Loops: Create channels for sharing AI successes and failures.

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

Bill Gates

Word of caution - don't slack off on security measures

While encouraging bottom-up innovation, companies must not lose sight of security. Implementing robust security protocols and educating staff on the importance of data privacy can't be overlooked now more than ever.

The Big Picture: AI + Humans = Win

AI is undeniably transformative, but its true power is unleashed when harmonised with the unique qualities that make us human.

By embracing AI and leveraging its multiplying effects, organisations can create a balanced ecosystem where machine intelligence, human intuition, ethics, and creativity coexist to achieve extraordinary outcomes.

Adopting a more fluid, trust-based approach to experimenting with AI technologies is the key to unlocking the most innovative, practical uses of AI in your organisation.

The future is not about choosing between humans and technology but blending them to achieve results neither could achieve on their own.

"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time." --- Leonard Bernstein

The future is a blend, not a battle.

So, if you're looking to prepare for this harmonious future, my advice is to start investing in both AI tools and human development today.

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