Artificial intelligence to augment humans and improve our work

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Successfully implementing artificial intelligence in organisations will help people in their jobs, rather than replace them.

Since the 1800s, technological innovation has led to fears of mass job loss. And now, with the emergence of artificial intelligence, 2019 has people once again questioning their place in the future of the workforce. This fear is nothing new, but is it well founded?

Employment in Ireland has grown despite a technical revolution

No-one can accurately predict what the future holds, but if we look to the past it helps give an indication of what we might expect. Take the last 30 years in Ireland for example. In 1989, the year the internet was invented by Tim Berners-Lee, we had an unemployment rate of 15%. Now, in 2019 it stands at just 5.4%.

This vast improvement in employment numbers has been achieved despite technological innovation that has seen the emergence of the internet, search engines, email, social media, eCommerce, connected homes, connected offices, online banking, video streaming, music streaming, smart phones, smart speakers and much, much more. These technologies have actually created industries that are employing 100,000s of people.

The current wave of technological innovation is a little different though

We can expect the same from artificial intelligence, but there’s something different about this current upsurge in innovation. One of the most cited studies on the impact of artificial intelligence on our jobs is a study by the McKinsey Global Institute that took an activity-led view of our roles. The basis for the research was that within every job category, there are activities that may have a different technical potential for automation than others.

The study estimates that only 5% of jobs could be fully automated in the next 10 years but that 60% of jobs have up to 30% of their activities that can be automated. This means that our jobs are more likely to change, rather than be fully automated out of existence. Which is a positive outcome as some of the tedious tasks we often don’t enjoy might become a thing of the past.

Time to wave goodbye to boredom?

Managing our inboxes, logging timesheets, entering data into multiple systems and other mundane activities have huge potential for automation. This frees up time for more challenging and stimulating activities like complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. This support is badly needed as a Gallup study covering millions of workers for 142 countries found that 87% of workers were either ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ from their jobs. Deloitte backed up this study when they reported that only 20% of workers were fully engaged in their work.

We all know work can be dull at times, it can be hard to break the routine. Ever since the mass production techniques moved from the factory floor to the office, workers have had their creativity organised out of them. In the outside world, the same people are imaginative and inventive: creating amazing garden spaces, cooking up a storm, painting, writing, teaching and making music together. Artificial intelligence will help inject this spark back into the office, engaging employees and driving productivity.

To keep reading about how artificial intelligence can augment humans in the workplace and bring more meaning to our professional lives, download our latest whitepaper here.  


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Joseph Walsh