How AI Can Make Our Work and Lives Better
Meta Description: While automation and AI in the workforce may eliminate some positions, it can also create jobs and greatly improve our work and quality of life.
Advancements in technology are leading to rapid changes in the workplace, with artificial intelligence (AI) usually the hottest topic of discussion. We are seeing AI used in everything from pharmaceutical development to food preparation to administrative tasks and more. With so many AI advancements happening and even more in the works, people around the world are understandably concerned about how these changes will affect our work lives…or maybe even cost us our jobs.
The reality is, however, that AI is being introduced into the workplace to augment, not replace, existing employees. The idea is for technology to help current employees do their jobs better because the technology just isn’t capable of doing what humans can do. Robotics and artificial intelligence will definitely have an impact on jobs, but there’s no evidence to support that it will reduce the number of jobs available. Rather than taking jobs from humans, AI will take repetitive, mundane tasks from humans — specifically those tasks that can easily be automated.
Uniquely Human Skills
AI can actually create new jobs and help job seekers avoid unemployment. A report from the World Economic Forum estimated that AI would create a net total of 97 million new jobs by 2025. That’s because AI doesn’t automate entire jobs; it automates certain skills in jobs. Every job is a collection of skills needed to perform a range of tasks. For example, a software developer needs a variety of skills, from coding to interpersonal skills to project management skills.
Human skills can be grouped into three broad categories:
- Process-oriented skills are physical or repetitive activities in highly structured and easy-to-understand settings. These skills account for half of an average person’s daily activities. This group includes things like building houses, filing documents, following accounting processes, etc.
- Quantitative reasoning skills are skills that require intelligence. This includes things like linguistic knowledge, problem-solving, logical and numeric reasoning, understanding analytics, and programming.
- Cross-functional reasoning skills have to do with social abilities and creativity. Examples of these skills in the workplace include defining strategy, managing people, exercising emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, etc.
How Does AI Impact These Skills?
AI will impact each of the three categories of human skill to a different degree. Machines are much better than humans in deterministic tasks that use process-oriented and quantitative reasoning skills. But humans are much better at more ambiguous tasks, such as those using cross-functional reasoning skills. Over the next decade, up to 80% of process-oriented tasks will be done by AI systems, leaving humans free to do more sophisticated work. Quantitative reasoning tasks will be done approximately 50% by humans and 50% by machines, while humans will continue to do more than 80% of cross-functional reasoning tasks.
Human workers and machines will work together flawlessly, complementing each other where necessary. AI, or machines, will be trained to carry out easy tasks and also to request help from a human if the job is too sophisticated for them to do.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the other ways in which AI can make our work and lives better.
AI can take over all kinds of monotonous, routine tasks, whether they are physical, transactional, or cognitive. Shifting these repetitive tasks from humans to AI boosts the ability of workers to be more productive and efficient. For example, a call center might have live human agents and AI simultaneously interact with customers on calls. The AI assistant can pursue relevant information and lead agents through different processes as they speak with the customer. That way call center agents don’t have to place a customer on hold to find information. This can help boost employee productivity a great deal.
Emphasize Human Skills
By handling many of the basic tasks that humans used to do, AI lets workers emphasize the skills that are uniquely human. In the example above, an automated agent can perform tasks like looking up customer info, planning details, or giving instructions, freeing up the human agent to chat with customers, exercise courtesy, make interactions more personalized, etc. We can expect to see more job postings with an emphasis on these types of human soft skills as opposed to IT skills or industry-specific knowledge, which machines can learn.
Another human trait that intelligent automation will emphasize is creative problem-solving. Businesses will be able to experiment more freely and will become more nimble. When certain procedures and operations become automated, it will make it easier and faster to update products, create new ad campaigns, implement new policies, etc. Organizations can implement changes at machine speed instead of having to train new employees and carry them out in a traditional fashion. Wherever automation is added, business processes become easier to change, leaving humans free to find new creative solutions that will benefit the business.
Allow for More Meaningful Work
AI can take away much of the monotony of work, which allows employees to put more time and energy into creativity and soft skills. This makes work more meaningful, giving employees the chance to use uniquely human skills to really incite change and make an impact. According to a poll of IT workers by Smartsheet, 78% of respondents said: “automation will allow them to spend more time on the interesting and rewarding aspects of their job.”
Businesses will be incentivized to attract and keep quality talent, and having AI will make them more attractive to potential employees. All other variables being equal, candidates for a job opening might find working at a company that doesn’t use AI to be less attractive than working at a company that offers the help of AI.
Although many people are feeling anxiety about the rise in AI, the bottom line is that it allows modern workers to focus on the most engaging parts of their jobs while ensuring that companies are more productive and effective across the board.