Breaking Down Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace
By Chemistry Team
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is defined as an area of computer science that creates intelligent machines to work and react similar to humans. These machines are able to learn from experiences, use reasoning to identify solutions, and adjust to new inputs. Common uses for AI today that you may be familiar with include self-driving cars, robotics, and natural language processing.
Although AI may seem to be too futuristic a concept for present-day concern, many industries have already felt its impact. Business owners and managers should give some consideration to how AI could/will affect their workplace including the way we do work, the kinds of skills we will need moving forward, and how our workplaces will look in the future. With machines being able to replicate human-like intelligence, we will see a rise in job automation as systems are able to tackle processes with minimal human assistance. Over time, the impact of job automation and AI in the workplace will lead to job roles changing, adapting, and even failing to prevail. According to an expert in the field, 40% of the jobs that currently exist will become extinct within our career lifetimes.
Although our use of the term Artificial Intelligence is relatively new, the idea of job automation has been around for many years. Automation has traditionally led to two different types of change as it relates to the workplace. The first change is worker displacement when decreased employment occurs as workers are replaced by machines. An example of worker displacement occurred in the 20th century when automation in agriculture replaced farm workers with more efficient machines.
The second type of change is called worker augmentation, when increased productivity, due to automation, creates more jobs in a sector or industry. An example to illustrate worker augmentation is the transition of bank teller jobs due to the rapid adoption of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). Rather than decreasing the number of bank tellers, the adoption of ATM technology actually lowered the cost of opening new retail bank offices leading to the need for additional bank-related workers, including tellers. There was also a shift in the job description for bank tellers, with a greater focus on customer relations as more routine tasks were being automated.
Considerations for Business Owners and Managers
When considering AI and the effect it will have on the workplace, it can be difficult to imagine where to start and how it will impact your business in particular. To ensure you are ready for the change and prepared to adapt, leaders should take in the following considerations:
1. Encourage a Culture of Change
As a leader, it’s important to understand that technological advancement represents a natural change that occurs in the workplace. The more you can do to encourage a culture of change in your workplace where your employees feel optimistic when facing technological changes, the better. By expressing your interest in new ideas and encouraging projects that require your staff to engage creative thinking, you are promoting a culture that values innovation and change.
2. Learn the ABC’s of AI
The more you know about Artificial Intelligence, the more you can understand the potential benefits it offers your organization. With a world of knowledge at your fingertips, there are many ways to learn about AI such as Youtube videos, academic reports, and/or conferences. With a stronger knowledge of AI, you can begin to strategically analyze how it could impact and improve your current processes.
3. Strategic Workplace Analysis
Take a look at the jobs and processes that currently exist in your workplace and how AI could benefit or impact them. Consider what existing roles within your company could benefit from AI, what roles would need their job descriptions updated to reflect job automation, and whether new roles would need to be created to manage new technological capabilities.
Over the years, technology has caused significant change in workplaces, causing roles to be adapted and adjusted as a result of job automation. A leader’s ability to manage and adapt to technological change throughout time has been rewarded with increased operational efficiency. Workplaces before us have adapted to new technology, and workplaces ahead of us will adapt to new technologies as well.