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Understanding AI and the Human Workforce

A number of respondents were concerned that AI will create job losses. This is largely due to the belief that low-level manual tasks can be replaced by machines.

Upskilling will be key to ensuring employees can adapt to evolving AI technologies. It’s also important to involve workers in AI conversations.

Partnerships

Rather than a threat, AI should be seen as an opportunity to enhance worker skills. Many organizations are already incorporating AI tools that foster workplace collaboration, facilitate communication and streamline project management. These aren’t just productivity boosters—they also empower workers by enabling them to develop new competencies and make more informed decisions. Embracing this potential will require a shift in management approaches and corporate culture. HR departments will need to be at the forefront of this transformation, assessing team dynamics and structuring roles so that human-AI partnerships succeed by augmentation, not replacement.

In the past, it was common to think of AI as automation—a digital machine that works on its own and does not interact with humans in any way. This view of AI is no longer accurate. AI can work as a kind of digital employee in close partnership with people, and these collaborations have the potential to create significant business value.

These collaborations involve ongoing interactions that may be overlapping, requiring the need for clear definitions of role boundaries and responsibilities. HR will need to help workers understand how their work interacts with AI systems, and they will need to collaborate with system and process designers to structure these partnerships in ways that maximize their impact.

It will also be necessary to develop policies that support these new kinds of collaborative relationships between humans and AI. Regulatory bodies will need to address how workers and machines work together in different roles, including as assistants, peers, or managers, and consider the implications for workplace safety, security, and privacy.

In addition to these policy changes, it will be important to ensure that human-AI collaborations are productive and rewarding for employees. This will require leadership that is willing to invest in retraining, new job roles, and learning platforms to support this transition. By embracing the opportunities that AI offers, companies can unleash a powerful partnership that will drive competitive advantage and benefit their existing workforce. This is a long-term investment in the future of work, and one that requires leadership that understands how to implement AI in ways that will enable the greatest benefits for their employees and the company.

Threats

Despite the fact that AI has brought new opportunities for innovation and economic growth, workers are also concerned that their jobs may be at risk. The OECD report mentions that three in five respondents are worried about AI eliminating their job in the future, and more than half of them fear losing their current jobs altogether. This is a real concern, and it’s vital to understand why.

According to the study, the main reason for job displacement fears is that AI has the potential to replace human jobs by taking over the more repetitive and less cognitive tasks. However, the OECD report emphasizes that the quality of work will improve rather than decrease with AI. The technology can free up time for employees to focus on creative, analytical, and interpersonal skills.

As the AI era progresses, it becomes increasingly important to train humans to collaborate with machines. This will involve training employees to sharpen their technical capabilities while honing uniquely human skills such as communication, innovation, and relationship building. Businesses can play a significant role in this by providing on-the-job training, upskilling programs, and cultivating a culture of continuous learning.

Another major threat is that AI can be used to manipulate and control people, which is a serious concern for many workers. AI has the ability to collect personal data, track a person’s location, and predict their behavior. This can be a threat to privacy and security. It can also be used to influence political opinions, determine a person’s social status, and make discriminatory decisions. For example, predictive policing algorithms have been shown to disproportionately target Black communities, which raises concerns about the use of AI for racial profiling.

Lastly, workers are also concerned about the impact that AI has on their mental health and emotional wellbeing. The study found that when new technologies are implemented without sufficient training or worker dialog, it leads to higher levels of stress. Workers are unsure about how the technology will impact their workloads, whether they will be able to keep their current job or even whether it will be easier or harder. As a result, they feel overwhelmed and stressed.

Opportunities

There is widespread concern about how AI might impact jobs. But what we need is a more nuanced discussion. While policies should certainly address the impact of automation, we also need to consider policy discussions about human-AI collaborations and AI that enhances human performance (like generative AI tools). In short, we need to think about workforce ecosystems as they intersect with AI. ChatGPT training by The Neuron could help you stay ahead of digital transformation and AI.

Workforce ecosystems are transforming how organizations source workers, design work, manage work and worker performance, and evaluate the value of labor. In addition, they are introducing new dependencies between employers and a broader range of actors, including contingent workers, other service providers, and AI. This convergence creates new opportunities for human-AI collaboration and calls for a more complex understanding of the dynamic relationship between these three groups.

While many employees worry that they will lose their jobs to AI, research indicates that the impact of AI may be more about job quality versus job quantity. This is a result of the fact that while AI can automate repetitive tasks, it can also improve the quality of work by helping workers complete more complex and analytical tasks that require human judgment and creativity.

In addition, AI can augment workers by providing context-specific information that helps them make better decisions in real time. This can be particularly valuable for workers that rely on problem-solving and decision-making in their day-to-day work, such as blue-collar factory workers, electricians, plumbers, educators, health care providers, etc.

Finally, AI can help increase the pace of work. In fact, a recent study found that workers who interact with AI are five times more likely to say that it increases the pace at which they perform their jobs. This can be due to the fact that AI is able to perform more complex and analytical tasks at a much faster rate than humans, which allows them to handle more workload and perform more tasks in a shorter period of time.

Despite these benefits, it’s not clear that workers will embrace human-AI collaboration. This is largely because of the lack of visibility about how AI might change their jobs. However, it is important for leaders to engage with workers and explain how they can benefit from a partnership between humans and AI. In addition, leaders must invest in training for workers to ensure they can adapt and collaborate with AI systems.

Conclusions

AI is transforming the design and conduct of work, and requiring new policy responses. The policy discussion must shift beyond a focus solely on how AI automates jobs or displaces workers, and expand to cover the ways in which humans and AI collaborate.

One example is human-AI collaboration in the form of human trainers and coaches working alongside their AI counterparts to learn, refine, and improve processes and outcomes. This is a growing area of opportunity for many companies. Another example is how humans collaborate with AI systems in areas such as customer service and diagnostics, utilizing the system’s lightening fast processing speeds to make rapid decisions while allowing employees to concentrate on more complex and nuanced tasks that require creativity, judgment, and emotional intelligence.

As AI becomes increasingly prevalent, the need for upskilling is critical. This includes retraining current employees in order to stay relevant, as well as training for new roles that may emerge. Many experts believe that in addition to reskilling, companies must also develop a set of skills known as “fusion skills,” which enable employees to use both their distinct human abilities and those of an AI system together to create superior results.

A related issue is data privacy and security. AI systems can collect and process massive amounts of data, and this has the potential to expose sensitive information. To protect this data, companies must ensure that they have policies in place to keep it secure.

Finally, a major challenge lies in making sure that the algorithms that drive AI are not influenced by or perpetuate discrimination and inequality. This requires that organizations be vigilant and constantly monitor their use of AI, including how it is trained and supervised. It also means ensuring that their data collection and analytics practices are transparent to their workforce.

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