New York City, 1997, reigning world chess champion Gary Kasparov is facing a formidable opponent: IBM’s recently upgraded Deep Blue computer. The match is taking place in a small television studio but several floors below, 500 people are squeezed into a sold-out theatre to watch the live broadcast of the contest.

In the first game, Kasparov wins in 45 moves. He resigns in the second game. Kasparov and Depp Blue reach a draw in the third, fourth and fifth games. Ahead of the sixth game, the overall score is equal. The match victory will be decided by a final battle.

Kasparov repeats his opening moves from game 4. However, Deep Blue sacrifices its knight; a daring, perhaps surprising move from a computer. The decision destroys Kasparov’s defence. The human grand master is forced to resign after fewer than twenty moves.

It was the first time a reigning World Chess Champion lost to a computer in a chess match, in tournament conditions.

Artificial Intelligence will displace many human jobs

45% of our daily work activities could be automated using technology that we already have access to. It’s likely that Artificial Intelligence will displace many human jobs, so are we heading for a conflict between artificial and emotional intelligence? (2)

Perhaps not. What if, rather than pushing humans out of the workplace, this development provides the opportunity to redesign our working life and unlock more of our unique human potential?

AI doesn’t need to sleep

A group of Oxford scientists evaluated the likelihood of various professions being displaced by automation. Jobs related to economics and accountancy were deemed to be most at risk (1).

Employers have long idolised ‘efficient working’ as the primary goal for their employees. However, when it comes to efficiency, we cannot compete with robots. AI promises a tireless, reliable, less error prone worker. AI rarely gets sick. AI doesn’t need to sleep.

How likely is it that jobs will be replaced by automation.

How likely is it that jobs will be replaced by automation.


Which human skills will become most important?

A recent survey set out to discover which human skills are likely to be most valuable in our automated future. Over 50% of the respondents, who represented various commercial institutions, suggested that an increased focus on STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is the highest priority.

However, ‘soft skills’, those associated with a person’s Emotional Intelligence, were considered to be the second most important (3). ‘Service orientation’: actively looking for ways to help people and ‘originality’: creative problem solving and the capacity to generate unusual ideas, are two of four skills identified as least ‘automatable’ (3).

Organisations that can create an environment to develop and maintain human high-performance, with an emphasis on these features that are more difficult to emulate artificially, will possess a powerful competitive advantage.

So how can we develop these soft skills and creative characteristics?

Unlocking human potential

Robots work very well when they are switched on, fixed in place and left alone, but self-focus makes humans weaker and less resilient (5, 6). Humans need more than fuel for optimum performance.

In 2009 a group of researchers led by Professor Andrew Oswald published a paper in which they concluded that:

“different forms of evidence, with complementary strengths and weaknesses, are consistent with the existence of a causal link between human well-being and human performance.” (9)

Oswald’s colleague, Dr Sgroi, noted that:

“The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.” (10) 

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that Emotional Intelligence, wellbeing and positive relationships are the foundations and precursors for improved human health and performance.

Inspired employees are the most productive

Emotional intelligence inspires, casts vision and emphasises the meaning in work. A study published last year suggests that one inspired employee can generate the same output as 2.25 satisfied employees. (8) Emotional intelligence helps us to create happy, healthy, high-performing teams.

Inspired employees


Enhance and multiply your performance

The evidence demonstrates that applying and developing our Emotional Intelligence, discovering meaning and purpose, prioritizing our health and wellbeing, improving our ways of working and social interactions, enhance and multiply our performance in four ways:

1. Physically: We increase strength and cardiovascular health, reduce inflammation, reduce stress markers and boost our immune system.
2. Psychologically: We improve emotional balance and resilience, regardless of circumstances.
3. Socially: We strengthen existing relationships, build higher quality relationships, boost co-worker’s productivity, improve workplace commitment, increase engagement and provide superior customer service.
4. Intellectually: We learn faster, think more creatively and can better resolve challenging situations.


What did Kasparov do next?

Garry Kasparov announced his retirement from professional chess on 10th March 2005 as the longest reigning world champion and redirected his focus towards politics and writing. Today, he is the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and many of his written works inspire others to take lessons from chess and apply them to improve our lives.

Perhaps it’s time to leave efficiency to the robots and use our emotional intelligence and human characteristics to become truly effective, unleash our originality and actively search for ways to serve and inspire each other, multiplying and amplifying our performance through our unique human contribution.

A version of this article first appeared at


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