The 2015 sci-fi film Ex Machina explores the nature of the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence (AI). It asks whether or not we can trust these digital creations to really do what’s best for society.
While this scenario may sound like something that will only happen well into the future, the reality is that many of these questions are already being asked today. With the rise of AI and robotics, we’re seeing a fair amount of uncertainty around what impact AI will have on jobs. In fact, a recent survey by Pew Research Internet found that Americans are around twice as likely to feel worry (72%) rather than enthusiasm (33%) when considering a future where robots and computers are able to do many of the tasks currently done by humans.
But the narrative around AI needs to change. More and more, AI, automation and robotics are actually enablers for the global workforce. These tools will help people to be more efficient, they’ll simplify collaboration and they can even be used to perform tasks that go beyond what regular humans can do.
According to Dr Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a former IBM employee and a digital economy expert, just because some of the activities in a job have been automated, does not imply that the whole job will disappear. “Automating parts of a job will often increase the productivity and quality of workers by complementing their skills with machines and computers, as well as enabling them to focus on those aspects of the job that most need their attention.”
AI is set to make an impact across all industries – from improving supply chain management and customer intelligence in retail to using AI algorithms to improve product design in manufacturing.
Below are a few points showcasing how AI will complement, not compromise, the modern workforce.
Boost knowledge workers: With many of the more menial and mundane tasks being automated, what we will see is an increase in knowledge workers. Employees will have to up their skills so that they become people use mind power instead of muscle power. These workers use their brains and not their bodies to add value to the business.
Improve workflows: We need to change how we work and automation and AI allow us to do so. It all starts with understanding how your teams currently work and why they work the way they do. In doing so, you can identify any processes that could be automated, as well as spotting, and minimising, any ineffective processes that may be hampering overall productivity.
Aid collaboration: Collaborative robots – called “co-bots” – are designed to work among humans. They can complete more intricate tasks, can be reprogrammed easily, learn quickly and function fluidly. Essentially, think of these bots as a second pair of hands that often oftentimes learn directly from humans who act as the “models” on which they base their behaviours.
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