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.
Couple of things -
- AI / Automation is not going to replace a large set of workforce soon.
- 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.
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).
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.
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.