If you believe all the gloomy and gloomy news today, you might think that automation and the use of AI-enabled systems in the workplace will replace numerous jobs worldwide.
But management and technology experts Thomas Davenport and Steven Miller argue that AI is not a job killer, no matter what other predictions might say. Yes, AI and smart technology will take over some jobs, but that will free workers for more demanding and important work.
Tom and Steven recently published a book on the subject called ” Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration, and I had the chance to talk to them about their predictions of how AI will fit into the workplaces of the future.
This is how AI expands the human in the workplace
When I asked Tom and Steven for some examples of AI-enabled work, they brought up several innovative examples.
Morgan Stanley’s wealth management division uses machine learning to create tailored investment forecasts, similar to how Netflix uses prediction technology in the entertainment world. Wealth managers who use the system are not only more productive, but also have happier and more satisfied clients.
A machine shop uses HoloLens mixed reality smart glasses and augmented reality to train operators on how to use machines. Steven says, “This is a wonderful example of how new technology is actually making it easier for young professionals to find a job.”
At Singapore’s Jewel Changi shopping complex, security teams are using AI to analyze video and input from other sensors to identify situations where human security agents may need to follow up.
How will AI affect the future of work?
I asked Tom and Steven about the overall impact of AI on the workplace of the future, and they shared with me some key trends they see.
“People need to embrace digital and smart technology if they want to be successful at work,” shared Tom. “I worked with a radiologist in the Boston area who also has a Ph.D. at AI. And he kept saying, ‘The only radiologists who will lose their jobs to AI are those who refuse to work with AI.’”
They were quick to emphasize that “advancing digital and intelligent technologies” doesn’t mean everyone needs to understand the mechanics of machine learning or be able to build underlying DevOps platforms. People just need to understand how to use the tools and understand how AI can help them with their work.
Tom also predicted that AI likely won’t be able to compete with humans in contextual understanding — at least not any time soon. One of his favorite examples is the online personal styling company StitchFix.
“AI helps create styling recommendations for customers, but they also have human stylists…the customer sometimes sends notes about the context of their clothing needs. They’ll say, “I’m going to a wedding and my ex will be there,” and the computers don’t understand it yet. People will be able to choose a seductive dress for the woman.”
Tom and Steven found a number of cases where AI can strike the first blow in solving a problem, but a business still needs a human to pull it all together, revise, review, and possibly override the AI’s answers.
Steven also mentions the fact that AI is just a small part of the monumental changes that will take place in the workplace. “It takes a whole village to change a job with AI,” he says. “You need many job roles in many different departments that need to be aligned and coordinated…these systems don’t happen overnight.”
AI doesn’t have to destroy jobs – but companies have to be ready
As workplaces expand, expand and change, Steven and Tom encourage both companies to develop thoughtful strategies about where technology is going and what types of skills and abilities are needed.
Understanding what work is being done by digital workers, what needs to be done by humans, and how the two relate will be key to maintaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace of the future.
You can watch my full interview with Tom and Steven here:
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