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New World of Work

Is artificial intelligence taking over?

By 19 October 2017No Comments

Hollywood tells us we’re all about to lose our jobs to robots – are they right?

The concept of ‘artificial intelligence’ conjures up images of a dystopian future, countries that once thrived turning into wastelands with humans nowhere in sight – no longer wanted or needed. It’s no surprise many of us picture this when we hear the term, with a long list of films and TV shows based around artificial intelligence taking over the world, we’re being taught to fear for our jobs and our lives.

Why is artificial intelligence being used?

Artificial intelligence comes in many different forms – chatbots, self-driving cars and digital assistants are just some of the ways AI has started making its way into our every day. Usually, AI is brought in to help us work smarter and there are a few main ways it helps us to do this:
Efficiency – Artificial intelligence helps workers to work quickly, bypassing using the margin of error and taking out the physical, time-consuming labour that is usually involved in their work. As a result, the work is achieved quickly and accurately every time. This is the case in factories all over the world – robots are able to perform the task of several workers (sometimes several hundred at once)
Streamlining Communication – artificial intelligence is also assisting in communications, particular in the form of chatbots. Whether it’s answering employee or student questions, dealing with HR issues or responding to requests AI is able to make the communications process a little bit easier so that people get answers to all their questions while workers get less frustrated with keeping up with requests.
Ease of expansion – as with the efficiency benefits, artificial intelligence can easily take the role of several workers, making it much easier for work to be done in a shorter amount of time and for more products or services to be rolled out to more consumers and expand the business.

So, should we be worried?

There are plenty of industries where artificial intelligence will start to make its mark. Jobs which have plenty of routine, such as factory work or even law and accounting, have started to see AI moving in over the last few years and decades.
On the flipside, artificial intelligence is yet to make a real dent in industries that rely heavily on empathy and human interaction – proving that it will be a long time before artificial intelligence takes over the world, if it ever does at all.
Self-checkouts at the supermarket are a great example of why we shouldn’t be too concerned. The machines that allow a greater volume of shoppers to check out at once are not ‘taking over’ and destroying cashier’s lives as they know them. Instead, cashiers are now trained in how to operate the machines and, as many of us know, the machines often fail and need a human to intervene and solve the issue.

What should we do?

In addition to empathy, one of our biggest strengths as humans is our ambition. Of course, some of us are more ambitious than others but as a group we are constantly looking ahead to the next hurdle that we can overcome. Instead of waiting for artificial intelligence to take over and leave us as obsolete, we should be training ourselves for a new position.
Just like all the changes that have occurred in the workforce in the last century, humans will adapt and find a new place for the skills that they have. Each generation goes through their own scare, wondering if they’ll be made redundant but each time we have found a way to be relevant and to use our skills in a new way. It’s no different this time around – we need to use artificial intelligence to improve our businesses, without letting it outsmart us but at the end of the day, it’s all about adaptation.
To learn more about AI and business improvement, download Pendragon’s eBook: ‘The New World of Work’.

Purnima Kabra