From marketing to strategic decision-making, to knowledge-management, AI is transforming the way we work. For this reason, it’s crucial that future business leaders develop a working knowledge of how AI can play out in the office.
But how exactly will AI shape the future of work? BusinessBecause spoke with two experts from Warwick Business School (WBS) to find out.
At WBS, professors Jochem Hummel and Shweta Singh (pictured below) are both assistant professors of information systems and management.
Jochem looks at the impact AI has on business, reviewing ways in which the technology undertakes expert tasks. Shweta has focused on researching the multiple issues AI technology is suffering from such as bias, explainability, and ethics, and is finding solutions and answers to make the technology more viable for use in business.
Here are four ways the pair think AI will influence the future of work.
1. AI can help understand reasons behind human bias in recruitment
Although AI is a long way from replacing recruiters, the technology could help understand humans’ unconscious bias during the hiring process.
Humans tend to unconsciously reinforce the status quo, which often means replicating a workplace that favors white men.
Although human-developed AI can replicate this bias, it also has the potential to understand human assumptions from the equation. AI can perform tasks such as anonymizing job applications so candidates can be screened more objectively, or use data to provide insights on how to attract more diverse talent.
“It really depends on the development which will determine whether the AI will be good or bad,” notes Jochem Hummel (pictured below), assistant professor at the Information Systems Management Group at Warwick Business school. “You need collaborative development, between the experts who are doing the hiring and those developing the AI.”
Experts are currently working on ways to manage and review these issues. Shweta Singh, assistant professor of information systems and management at Warwick Business School, combines AI models with mathematical models of Cognition to find solutions to AI bias.
2. Automating routine tasks could free up human time
There are certain tasks that AI can perform more quickly and effectively than humans. But rather than replacing humans altogether, this tech will free up human time for other tasks.
For instance, voice-based AI technologies such as ‘Siri’ or ‘Alexa’ have become our very own digital personal assistants.
“[Tools like Siri and Alexa offer users] realtime answers to their queries, respond to their requests, and also aim to become more intelligent every day by constantly renewing and updating the knowledge they have about their users,” Shweta explains.
With AI helping them schedule meetings, answer questions, and write your to-do list, human workers can focus on more creative endeavors.
And in more sophisticated areas, AI is catching up, Jochem says.
“In our research, we looked at lawyers and the way they learn and read court documents. Now with AI, the technology is able to screen the documents and tell lawyers where they should look instantly,” explains Jochem.
AI technology’s ability to undertake expert tasks is extremely time-efficient for lawyers, allowing them to focus on understanding the output produced by AI. Lawyers will spend less time being trained to read documents, and longer on understanding why the AI makes certain decisions and how to act upon them.
This automation does not mean the exclusion of humans. Although court documents can be analyzed by AI, the software cannot provide an engaging explanation of its decision process.
This is where humans will need to come into play.
3. Humans and AI will work side by side
Companies that rely solely on AI to automate processes and use it to displace employees will only see short-term gains as the technology does not have acute emotional intellect, or creative skills to innovate.
Shweta thinks the most successful organizations will pair AI with humans in the long-run in order to achieve Augmented Intelligence — that is, the use of machine and deep learning to provide humans with actionable data. The technology is not innovating to replace but to enhance humans.
“Human AI collaboration and coexistence will become the future of work and Augmented Intelligence will become the ‘new normal,’” explains Shweta.
For this approach to be successful, organizations will need to build an interface between humans and AI.
“There needs to be some sort of translation between the technology and the experts,” Jochem explains.
At WBS, Jochem and his colleagues are helping future leaders manage this balance.
4. AI will create brand new jobs
The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, technology will create at least 12 million more jobs than it destroys. There will be a growing demand for data analysts and scientists, AI and machine learning specialists, digital and marketing strategy specialists, among many more.
“We talk about the displacement of jobs, but we do not talk about how many new jobs will be created. There is research that finds that over time the number of jobs created by AI will be more than the ones taken away,” notes Shweta.
The technology allows room for humans to focus on higher-value and higher-touch tasks requiring interpersonal interactions. Individuals will have more time to be creative, strategic and entrepreneurial.
“You can start to innovate and do other tasks better, more efficiently,” concludes Jochem. “Automation and augmentation are not necessarily leading to fewer jobs, and our research is showing that so far.”
As future business leaders prepare to go into a fast-changing, uniquely challenging post-COVID business environment, the MBA programs offered by schools like WBS will play an important role in equipping them for innovation.
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