Futurists and science fiction writers have always looked ahead to predict how machines could augment the way people live and work. Still, a future where technology fully replaces physical work is distant, but it’s no surprise that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a bit of a buzzword among technology and business circles lately. The topic of AI often generates strong reactions, with proponents who note its boundless potential reach and others who see it as a nadir for the global workforce. However, industries across the board have noted the potential of AI and how it will impact enterprises at the core.
According to Narrative Science, 44 per cent of executives believe artificial intelligence’s most important benefit is ‘automated communications that provide data that can be used to make decisions’. For business environments, many tasks are already being performed through the automated functions of intelligent machines, such as scheduling, report compilations and invoice tracking. Other sectors, such as customer support and manufacturing (particularly in assembly and machining), are no longer prioritising the need for actual employees to accomplish their business objectives. Though many of these jobs require extensive training and expertise, many of the tasks are repetitive, which can, in the end, be completed by machines.
As a concept, artificial intelligence is designed to analyse and transform data into humanised formats that are easy to digest and act upon, without needing to be prompted. Today, automated processes are an essential part of not only workplace computing, but common business processes as well. Any enterprise that fosters an information-driven, social, and mobile culture creates an engaged workforce that contributes to the bottom line of modern management.
Losing jobs to technology isn’t a new concept - it is a fact of the workforce and a sign of the times. Though anticipation of AI coming into widespread use is still in its infancy, there will always be a healthy debate on the potential effects effect on jobs. Emerging technologies can improve the speed, quality and value for goods and services, but the fear is that they may also displace large numbers of workers. Increased productivity is the common goal for any competitive enterprise, and for business, the benefits of automation are clear: allow for tasks to be completed faster in a way that is cost-effective and error-free.
However, advances in technology have long represented a serious threat to many jobs that are ordinarily performed by workers. According to Gartner, customers will manage 85 per cent of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human by the year 2020. By then, AI, automated software and connected networks will become much more sophisticated and capable with both positive and negative implications for jobs the overall economy.
The amount of computerisation necessary to take over these jobs will be dependent on how well these fields adapt to new technology, how much they’re willing to pay for it and benchmark the effect it has on productivity. Although AI can take on more routine duties and even impact human decision-making, it cannot cover all of the bases.