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Where Do Humans Fit in an AI World?

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member, Dan Schawbel. Here he wonders where do human fit in an AI world?

Over the past few years, I've been exploring the relationship between humans and technology in the workplace. The big question that everyone wants to know the answer to is, “what is a human's role in an AI-driven world?” We all want to know what it means to be a human when technology seems to be consuming everything around us. Over the years, the threat of robots, artificial intelligence and machine learning has caused great speculation, fear and worry. Since technology is already having such an impact on our work lives, most of my research over the past few years has focused on it, along with my last book “Back to Human” and my contribution to “Being Present” published by The Workforce Institute at Kronos.

Most recently, I worked with Oracle on a second annual study focused on AI at work. Different from 2018, the 2019 edition is global and has been expanded surveying 8,370 employees, managers and HR leaders in ten countries. In 2018, we found that the majority of workers would trust orders from a robot so we decided that for 2019 we would investigate how AI was disrupting the employee and manager relationship. The adoption rate for AI at work continues to increase as there is both general awareness of it, applications for it and real success stories. This year, 18 percent more workers are using some form of AI in the workplace and their sentiment has evolved from fear to optimism and excitement. We found that HR leaders were using AI the most and were more likely to have positive feelings about it.

Last year showed that workers trust robots with making decisions for them. This year, almost two-thirds said that they would actually trust a robot more than their manager and half have turned to a robot instead for advice. In order to further understand what the role of a manager is in an AI-driven workforce, we asked what robots can do better than them, and what they can do better than robots. Workers said that managers are better at using their soft skills, like empathy, coaching and creating a work culture, while robots are better at automating tasks like providing unbiased information, maintaining work schedules, problem solving and budget management.

If people want to thrive in the workplace of today, and tomorrow, they should focus on improving their soft skills. As technology continues to accelerate, more tasks that involved their hard skills will be automated, increasing the demand for soft skills. In this way, technology will force us to be more human and to co-exist with robots that will make our lives easier and hopefully, better. The smartest thing that we can do is to understand how AI can benefit us, experiment with it and then implement it in our jobs or departments. AI is here to stay, so start using it today so that you will be better prepared for the future, as technology continues to penetrate every aspect of our lives.

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