Being Human in the Midst of Increased Automation


Developments in artificial intelligence (AI) continue to illicit concerns from workers about job security. As automation increases, more manual and button-pushing jobs will be taken over by machines. While it is tempting to fear the loss of jobs to machines, AI shouldn’t be considered a replacement, but rather an integration into the project-oriented workforce. Focusing on the need for humans even in the midst of automation not only aids in keeping jobs for people, but can also help hone the development of AI towards its best use.
AI is not the adversary of humans in the sense that it is diabolically plotting to take over the world. AI should be used for advancement rather than a vehicle to help us become complacent. As automation takes over tasks that require less thinking, humans are freed up to innovate. As a project leader, you have the opportunity to spend your time developing processes and relationships that may otherwise fall by the wayside in the face of necessary but tedious tasks.
By allowing AI to function as a helper rather than as a manager, you can embrace new challenges and advance your organization. So, what is your thought on this, are we hyping up AI issue on high scale rather than making it as our secondary help which will take care of repetitive work for us.

Artificial Intelligence
Human Computer Interaction
Project Management
Management Development
Masarrat A Shah
21 months ago

5 answers


Couple of things -

  1. AI / Automation is not going to replace a large set of workforce soon.
  2. Complete automated systems driven by AI are still far.

Having said that, yes, its a potential threat for job cuts. There is no doubt that a lot of workers are going to loose their job because of that. But there is always a transformation into workforce.

This discussion is similar to what happened in early 90s. "Will computer replace humans ?" When computer came in offices back in 90s they cut a lot of clerical, accounting, book keeping and other office jobs, 1 computer could replace 5 people. Though later computers created a lot of new jobs. However with AI/Automation the real problem is - how to create new jobs.

Hitesh Mathpal
21 months ago
AI will create new jobs, very nice though. - Maya 21 months ago
Hitesh, yes agree with you, however we still have to be vigilant as the times have changed. - Masarrat A 21 months ago

AI is replacing workforce. Though, there is no significant study or statistics available so far that can show the real picture. Future is going to be full of job cuts though.

Maya Kharkwal MA, BEd
21 months ago
Agreed Maya. Jeff Bezos said that we live now in the Golden Age of AI. Means we have the technology, but still have to find out what we can do with it. This may lead to utopia, but also dystopia. - Patrick 21 months ago
Thank you. - Maya 21 months ago
Welcome!! - Patrick 21 months ago

Erik Brynjofsson, Director at the Massachusetts Institute (MIT) of Technology for Digital Economy: “AI won’t be able to replace most jobs anytime soon. But in almost every industry, people using AI are starting to replace people who don’t use AI, and that trend will only accelerate.” 

Paul Ryan, IBM Watson’s UK Director of Artificial Intelligence: “Every major decision, business and personal, will be made with the assistance of cognitive technologies.”

Nevertheless we have to be honest, maybe AI will not directly lead to reduction of headcount, but for potential replacement companies may prefer the software or machine instead of the human. Companies and society have to be honest with the individuals, so that they can prepare (together with the society).

Patrick Henz
21 months ago
Yes, Patrick absolutely correct, we have to see how we can utilize AI and as we know no one can beat human brain no machine can do that. We have to see hpw can we innovate more ad more, fail more and more and create new avenues. - Masarrat A 21 months ago
Correct, we have to concentrate on our human advantages and let machines do their part (repeating data-driven tasks). - Patrick 21 months ago
Good example - automation kills headcount and that is there for decades. - Maya 21 months ago
Thanks!! - Patrick 21 months ago

On the margin, AI will cause job loss for tasks that otherwise would be 'low level or repetitive and done by knowledge workers'.

I think leaders need to examine the AI impact with a broader lens. Roles or workflows (chunks of activity) are not just about an immediate set of decisions or tasks. People doing a valuable task (benefit > cost) also has effects on collaboration (equity among workers), risk, brand/perceptions...

I encourage my clients and teams to use techniques like Jobs to be Done. This fuels thinking about a bigger context and business outcome. It helps to uplift the conversation while still accounting for details.

Michael Franken
21 months ago

Automation does not really effect a company's present workforce, It changes their future workforce. I think that it is safe to say that automation does not cause employees to lose their jobs.

Basically the company could see reduction in future jobs, but most times the added qualitity and production brought on by automation causes companies to shift thier workforce to other areas or expand the over all employee count.

Tim Devries
21 months ago

Have some input?