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5 Human Skills Robots Will Never Replace

Sinead Donnelly


humans vs robots

Empathy and the Four Cs – these are the five soft skills robots cannot reproduce.

The human side of business is one of the things that robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) haven’t been able to replicate. Chief evangelist at UiPath, Guy Kirkwood, highlights the critical soft skills that automated devices have been unable to master.

“Empathy and the four C’s – empathy, creative thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration- are crucial soft skills that cannot be replicated by robots,” he explains.

Kirkwood believes that education should evolve to focus solely on these soft skills in a time where automated devices are making exponential advances. “Learning German is no good if a robot is programmed for instant translation,” he says.

“Similarly, studying accounting is useless if you have an automated device to do it for you.”

DIGIT has compiled a list of the top soft skills that robots have been unable to reproduce.

1. Creative thinking

Although creative thinking is typically associated with more artistic endeavours, many jobs require it, including the business, science and technology sectors. The definition of creative thinking translates as the ability to come up with something innovative. So, thinking creatively is simply the ability to consider something – a conflict between employees, a problem or a group project – in a new way. Employers in all industries require employees who can do this, which is something no automated device can replace.

2. Creativity

Similarly, creativity is something that humans (granted, some more than others) innately possess. Perhaps you have a unique way with words and are an aspiring author. Or maybe you’re studying to become an architect and have incredible vision and imagination for built environments. Automated devices currently operate by taking existing data and making logical inferences based on parameters humans give it. Creativity and imagination are not programmable skills, which gives humans a distinct advantage over technology.

3. Empathy:

Although robots can perform basic human interactions, no matter how highly developed they are, robots cannot replicate a human’s natural ability to connect with and understand other human beings. Empathy is essential in the workplace in order to read another colleague, manage emotions, work collaboratively and communicate effectively. For example, although AI is being used in healthcare to more accurately detect diseases on scans, would you want a robot to break the news that you have cancer? In the workplace, compassion illustrates a deep respect for co-workers, increasing productivity, morale and loyalty.


4. Communication:

Communication skills are especially important in technology roles where people are increasingly spanning various teams leading advancing digitisation. Problem-solving and understanding new technologies are futile if you can’t communicate your findings to your colleagues or to management. In addition, employers value employees with effective communication skills who can provide high-quality client and customer service. Yes, robots can communicate but how can they replicate a genuine, authentic conversation that occurs between two human beings?

5. Collaboration:

As our educational and career paths continue to steer us in the direction of being specialised in our daily tasks, a robot could potentially fill in our informational gaps. However, teamwork is more than just pooling information – it requires people to read team members feelings, share workloads, problem solve and communicate coherently.

Simply put, teamwork can be a make or break aspect of a business. Although the future of work sees robots and employees working more collaboratively, teamwork does not translate effectively in robotics. Humans have an innate ability to thrive off of other human beings, meaning collaboration comes naturally.

Guy Kirkwood will be speaking at DIGIT’s Intelligent Automation Summit on the 20th of June in a talk entitled “Automation, Employees and Customer Experience: The Future of Work”.

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Sinead Donnelly


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