From I, Robot to the iPhone, AI’s involvement in and impact on our lives have been at the forefront of our collective mindset for decades now. With the expansion of AI’s capabilities, its predominance within the workplace is likewise set to grow in a variety of ways.
- Man and Machine
One of the most commonly expressed fears about the rise of AI is that it might replace workers. That fear is most acutely felt in industries such as ridesharing and taxi services, leading to smoke bombs and protests outside Yandex Taxi’s Moscow offices a couple of years ago.
However, tech futurists don’t see the issue as “Man versus Machine,” but as “Man and Machine,” with the two working together in symbiotic harmony. According to this thinking, as AI learns from us, so too can we learn and benefit from examining the way AI thinks and solves problems. We have different thought processes and skills, and they can be complementary rather than antagonistic.
- Mundanity and Creativity
A related school of thought is that more AI in the workplace will allow us to focus on more creative work. If AI can handle jobs such as data entry and note taking, there may be more calls for jobs that require creative thinking and innovation.
On the one hand, that’s potentially great news for STEM majors as well as those in the oft-maligned creativity-centric fields, such as the Humanities and Liberal Arts.
On the other hand, it will require careful advance thought to retrain employees whose livelihoods are at risk of AI encroachment, so they are not thrown out of a job with no economic or social future.
- AI as HR
What we call “Human Resources” is likely to involve a lot more “Artificial Intelligence” in the coming years. AI can sift through applications according to preset data, making prescreening applicants much more efficient. This is a perfect demonstration of the potential for Man and Machine to work together, with AI handling the prescreening process, giving human HR workers more time to focus on interviews.
As exciting as the raw tech potential of AI is, its impending implementation will say a lot about what defines humanity and how we see ourselves.