AI will support not threaten workers

artificial intelligence

AI is going to transform the workplace, in fact the OECD estimate that nearly half of all current jobs will be transformed by AI and automation, but is it really a threat to everyone’s jobs?

The national news agenda love to look at the impact of AI from a negative perspective, with our jobs being replaced by robots, however I think the reality is that AI is far less black and white than that.  Yes, AI will automate some functions in the workplace, but it will also support workers and potentially create a whole raft of new career opportunities.

As a software and change consultancy firm we often work with businesses who are implementing systems, and recognise the friction and fear that the introduction of AI can raise in organisations over losing their job security. We support businesses as they seek to understand the benefits of AI within their specific context and how AI can be perceived within their domain in the future

Personally, I think it will take many decades, if ever, for technology to match the human brains plasticity and capabilities, but what it will do is support workers in their day to day roles.  The technology isn’t there to replace the higher cognitive tasks that we as humans perform, but it is at a place where it can remove some of the less interesting and transactional elements of a role.  For staff, this means AI has the potential to make jobs less boring! Freeing up staff from repetitive tasks to focus on more cognitive intense elements of jobs, things that require more strategic thinking, creativity or emotional intelligence.

In the short to medium term, we are likely to see more and more mixing of resources within an organisation, with AI and humans working together. For example, AI and robotics replacing things like dangerous tasks in manufacturing or AI being used to analyse big data to provide insights which staff can then use to understand the best strategies to implement.

AI will also play a role in HR, engaging and managing staff, carrying out things like employee appraisals, supporting team members in remote working through new VR and AR technology, and supporting staff to improve their own workplace health, through tech like health tracking etc.

We need to move away from demonising AI as a job stealer, instead it provides the opportunity to improve roles.  Not only this, it will create jobs that don’t even exist now.  You only have to look at the last few years where around 40% of the jobs created have been in digitally intensive industries, this is a trend which is only set to increase.

AI is here to stay, but it’s also here to have a positive impact, creating new job opportunities and helping to improve workplace efficiency, culture and directly benefit staff.

Priscilla CoatesAbout the author

Priscilla Coates is the managing director of award-winning software developers and change consultancy, Magma,