The introduction of AI into the workplace has been underway for some time. Artificial Intelligence is used to supervise electrical plants and energy supplies and to provide assistance to doctors during delicate operations, as well as to manage content on social networks.
The workplace has been literally invaded by AI, although many of its applications are still at an early stage and have not yet reached a sufficient level of development to be considered ‘dangerous’ to human workers. So, should we be worried about the future?
Can AI substitute man?
The fear that robots could steal humans’ jobs is not that irrational considering that humanity has already faced similar circumstances in the past. The industrial revolution in fact, introduced the use of increasingly sophisticated machines, leading to the loss of millions of jobs, but creating new ones, meaning that humans still felt they had a useful role.
AI is set to replace humans completely in workplaces where repetition forms the mainstay of the activity involved. Professions such as taxi driver, checkout operator, call-centre assistant etc. are all examples of roles which are destined to disappear.
This new evolution in the world of work is considered plausible by a well-known research agency which estimates that it will lead to the loss of 1.8 million jobs in the next few years. However, estimates also show that over 2.3 million new jobs will be generated once the use of AI in the workplace becomes widespread.
Does the work of AI cause alarm?
The forecasts are not sufficient to support a consensus and the number of those sceptical about the introduction of AI in the workplace continues to rise. The main worry of those who oppose this inevitable technological evolution is that, one day, robots will replace man completely, rendering him more or less superfluous.
AI experts are trying to downplay these fears, by explaining that there will always be a need for human beings. AI will always require constant monitoring, since it will not be capable of resolving every problem.
For example, AI used in marketing might not know how to answer all the clients’ questions (and it is in cases like that when human intervention would be fundamental.)
Can creative work be done by AI?
In some situations, AI could only assume marginal, assisting roles, especially in those professions involving creativity. At the present time, teaching a machine to be creative remains a fantasy.
In any case, creative workers will have to evolve, since it is highly probably that one day, AI will be able to take over most of the research involved, thanks to their innate ability to analyse millions of pieces of data in a matter of seconds.
A good example to illustrate this concept could be the work of a writer, who could delegate the task of writing a basic first draft, so that all he would need to do is to correct it and enrich the language with a more human style.
In a graphics-based workplace, AI could be used to select relevant images from a huge database and create a preliminary collage for a person to work on.
At present, humanity is at the threshold of a new and inevitable evolution: a generational leap which until it has taken place, cannot be defined as either negative or positive. According to expectations however, the work of AI will go hand-in-hand with the work of humans, thereby improving productivity and safety dramatically.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith