It’s unlikely that AI will steal your job, but the power of automation very well may change how it fits into the modern workplace.
The rapid and inexorable progress in the development of artificial intelligence has raised understandable concerns over the risks the technology poses to job security. There is a palpable fear that humans will quickly become obsolete, with some suggesting that up to half of existing jobs could be automated.
This viewpoint is oversimplified, write Ravin Jesuthasan, Tracy Malcolm, and George Zarkadakis for the Harvard Business Review, as it fails to consider that automation will affect only certain tasks within specific jobs of a given occupation (when evaluated this way, only 9% of jobs are at a high risk of automation). In this more nuanced understanding, AI will simply force us to rethink our job descriptions, rather than eliminating work altogether.
Redefining Value in the Modern Workplace
Already AI is having a significant impact on how we do our jobs, from streamlining administrative tasks to expediting medical research, and this rapid evolution requires a new way of thinking about the value of an employee and her performance. Traditionally, we tend to think that as job performance increases, the value added to the company rises with it. But mounting evidence suggests that this relationship varies from job to job: for some positions, better talent makes a big difference, but for others, “good enough suffices.”
Because AI is changing all industries so rapidly, it may be more useful to measure the value of improved performance in a given position, or Return on Improved Performance, say Jesuthasan, Malcolm, and Zarkadakis.
Consider commercial pilots. They are an essential asset to every airline, but after one reaches a certain skill level, higher-performing pilots don’t necessarily produce additional business value. But if you invest in AI to automate the “routine and repetitive” processes of the pilot’s job, you maximize their value while opening up other opportunities. Veteran pilots could, for example, oversee multiple autonomous flights at a given time, stepping in when circumstances move beyond the capacities of the automated routines. In this instance, a pilot’s job description suddenly and dramatically changes, as does the value of her experience and skill.
Although it will likely be years before unmanned commercial flights are a reality, commercial airfare is a perfect example of what Thomas H. Davenport and Julia Kirby of the Harvard Business Review call an “opportunity for augmentation.” Rather than viewing automation as a threat, we could instead think of AI as a collaborative partner — one that enhances our work, as the authors suggest.
Choosing to approach AI in this way — incorporating it into our work lives — “means starting with what humans do today and figuring out how that work could be deepened rather than diminished by a greater use of machines.” For example, humans simply cannot glean useful insights from massive data sets with the same precision and speed that sophisticated computers can; there’s no way around it. On the other hand, computers do not have the same powers of creativity and abstract thinking that people do. By using AI to manage all your big data, your employees are now free to focus on those critically important human elements of their work.
This is exactly what Albert™, an autonomous marketing platform, does for marketing teams. No longer do marketers need to spend hours upon hours on administrative duties: whether it’s A/B testing, analytics, audience targeting, or media buying, Albert can do it all, which means you can dedicate more time to the work you want to be doing.
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