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July 2, 2020

Does the Human Touch + AI = The Future of Work?

Bryan Becker

(IR Stone/Shutterstock)

Artificial intelligence has long caused fear of job loss across many sectors as companies look for ways to cut costs, support workers and become more profitable.  But new research suggests that even in STEM-based sectors like cybersecurity, AI simply can’t replace some traits found only in humans, such as creativity, intuition and experience.

There’s no doubt, AI certainly has its place.  And most business leaders agree that AI is important to the future success of their company. A recent survey found CEOs believe the benefits of AI include creating better efficiencies (62 percent), helping businesses remain competitive (62 percent), and allowing organizations to gain a better understanding of their customers, according to Ernst and Young.

And AI is already having a real impact across many industries including healthcare, financial services, retail, automotive, and critical infrastructure. According to a recent report by KPMG, AI improves access to medical care in healthcare, detects fraud in financial institutions, mitigates customer service issues in retail and improves traffic management systems in transportation.

AI’s Role in Cybersecurity

In cybersecurity, AI and machine learning provide several advantages for cybersecurity professionals, especially in the face of the technology talent gap. According to a recent survey by WhiteHat Security, more than 70% of respondents agree that AI-based tools made their cybersecurity teams more efficient by eliminating more than 55% of mundane tasks.

Nearly 40% of respondents also feel their stress levels have decreased since incorporating AI tools into their security stack, and of those particular participants, 65% claim these tools allow them to focus more closely on cyberattack mitigation and preventive measures than before.


So while AI has proven extremely beneficial in supporting tasks, it may not ever replace some decision-making. WhiteHat’s survey found that 60% of security professionals are still more confident in cyberthreat findings verified by humans over AI.

Could it be that at the end of the day, we’ll always place more trust in humans over machines?

The Human Touch + AI

Despite the number of advantages AI-based technologies offer, respondents also reflected on the benefits the human element provides cybersecurity teams.

Thirty percent of respondents cited intuition as the most important human element, 21% percent emphasized the importance of creativity, and nearly 20% agreed that previous experience and frame of reference are the most critical human advantages.

These findings match up with other extensive reports that are helping to shape the future of education and the labor market.

A recent report entitled “Robot-Ready: Human + Skills for the Future of Work” conducted by the Strada Institute, finds that the most valuable workers now and in the future, will be those who can combine technical knowledge with human skills: programming + ethics, artificial intelligence + emotional intelligence, logic + judgment. Other findings include:

  • Human skills such as leadership, communication, and problem solving are among the most in-demand skills in the labor market.
  • Human skills are applied differently across career fields. To be effective, liberal arts grads must adapt their skills to the job at hand.
  • Liberal arts grads should add technical skills. There is considerable demand for workers who complement their human skills with basic technical skills like data analysis and digital fluency.
  • Human+ skills are at work in a variety of fields. Human skills help liberal arts grads thrive in many career areas, including marketing, public relations, technology, and sales.

Putting the Human Touch + AI into Practice

It’s clear that human skills involving insight, creativity and other mental processes cannot be easily automated, and perhaps the best way to future proof workforces is to collaborate with AI and technology.


In the application security industry, this model has worked well at WhiteHat Security. Our engineers and researchers have developed, trained and tested machine learning models that enable increasingly automated cybersecurity vulnerability verification.

This automated vulnerability verification allows engineers and researchers the time to develop additional security tests and spend an increasing amount of time on security research that benefits our customers. For instance:

  • To ensure that vulnerabilities that can’t be automatically verified by the machine learning subsystem are verified by humans.
  • To add new human-curated vulnerabilities to the 150+ TB attack vector data lake for future machine learning endeavors.
  • For performing quality control on a sample of the automatically verified vulnerabilities and provide a feedback loop to fine-tune machine learning models as needed.

Going Forward

AI and machine learning have infiltrated almost every industry and impacted businesses in many positive ways, but my belief is that machines will never reign over humans in our industry or others.

In the cybersecurity industry, people will always play a higher-level role no matter how autonomous AI is able to make security processes.

With AI, it’s clear that our role as humans shifts – rather than disappears – into an elevated and mastery role and takes over tedious and routine tasks that can propel us forward into the future.

About the author: Bryan Becker is the Product Manager at WhiteHat Security. Bryan has been working in application development and security since the startup scene in 2003. Before working at WhiteHat Security, he worked as a contractor in the startup hub of Asia, Shenzhen, China. There, he helped multiple startups develop internal and external facing applications, as well as developed strong security policies that are realistically achievable with strapped resources. He has also been heavily involved in the blockchain startup industry in Hong Kong, where he helped small teams get proof-of-concept blockchain apps up and running to present to venture capitalists.