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The workforce and Artificial Intelligence

artificial intelligence replacement

Written by Josh Hawkins
Aug 29, 2019
Submitted by Josh Hawkins on Thu, 08/29/2019 - 04:58

Artificial intelligence systems are a very powerful tool in today’s world with many businesses adopting AI replacement to automate processes, eliminate human error and free-up their staff to do more ‘value add’.

However, it is worthwhile remembering these systems do not replicate human IQ and therefore will have limitations on what they can do so it is good to understand how we can best utilise these systems.

What is Artificial Intelligence? 

Artificial intelligence can be split into 3 main categories which are Narrow, General and Super AI.

Narrow Artificial Intelligence 

Also known as weak intelligence, is normally focused on one narrow task and is actually the only intelligence we’ve achieved so far. 

Think Siri from Apple, Alexa from Amazon, or Home from Google. There is actually no real intelligence to what they are doing, these systems are using a lot of data on the web to answer questions or initiate an activity. However as you can see from the companies listed above, all the big players are investing heavily to win the race to the next step which will be a game changer - General Artificial Intelligence. 

You could say that RPA (Robotic Process Automation) falls into this category also, as RPA is effectively taking a task and automating it with set rules and guidelines which would suggest it is Narrow Artificial Intelligence.

General Artificial Intelligence

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This is the type of intelligence you will probably think of when someone talks about AI. A machine that can apply intelligence to solve any problem, think in an abstract way like a human. In a lot of the movies, this intelligence is in a robot, a physical technology to interact with. There is some debate over what GAI is and how to confirm it’s been achieved. From my brief research, the easiest way to summarise would be to say that computers can do the same things as a humans i.e. gain a degree, make a cup of tea, converse with another human without them knowing they are talking to a robot. Whilst these things are easy for us to do, it’s extremely complex for a computer and despite a lot of advances we are still a long way off achieving this. 

Super Artificial Intelligence 

University of Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom defines superintelligence as

"An intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills."

Whilst we have seen systems like DeepMind beat the top Go player in the world (Go is considered one of the hardest games to become a master) it did this through programming and learning this specific task. It’s not able to be the best at a range of tasks, let alone be creative. 

Super AI has the potential to radically change our world solving problems and tackling issues that have eluded mankind for centuries. 

It’s also where us humans have the potential to be replaced, and there has been a lot of debate that creating this type of intelligence could either be amazing or the downfall of mankind. 

Stephen Hawking states

"In short, the rise of powerful AI will be either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which."

What is the long term vision for AI within the workforce? 

It will create more jobs

While many see the introduction of AI as a bad thing, it will in fact create jobs. Many reports have indicated that AI will create as many jobs as it displaces, as we see more jobs become available in the data science space. Not just limited to data science, we may also see new jobs created in spaces that don’t even exist yet. For example, Machine-relations Managers who would be people tasked with championing the greater use of algorithms.

However, we do have to consider there are a number of roles that AI simply couldn’t replace. Relationship building and roles that require leadership, creativity or empathy could be saved from the AI revolution.

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Reduction in challenges faced by the workforce

In the recruitment world we are likely to see many positive outcomes with the rise of AI. During the recruitment process or even in performance management situations, employees will be able to be evaluated impartially and in an unprejudiced way. HR Managers will hopefully see a positive change in the way their departments are run, whereby they can focus on more strategic business opportunities to ensure diversity in the workplace.

Productivity will sky rocket

In a report recently compiled by PwC, 54 per cent of businesses confirm that implementation of AI-driven solutions in their companies has already improved productivity. With the introduction of AI and more streamlined processes through Machine Learning (ML), businesses are able to reduce costs and improve the quality of their services. In turn organisations are seeing higher profits and more satisfied stakeholders and customers.

In summary

As Artificial Intelligence continues to grow, it will soon become the norm to many of us and its real value will soon become very apparent. It’s hard to say when, or if, we will ever reach Super AI advancements, but the workforce is most certainly evolving already, and in many ways for the better. While we may see many jobs dissolve, there will certainly be the capacity and need for many more jobs to manage and keep up with this consistent demand, alongside those jobs relationship based jobs that simply can’t be done by a robot.

If you wan to read more on the impact of AI in the workforce, take a look one of Morgan McKinley's guest speakers, Brock Douglas from IBM thoughts on this topic.

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