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How AI is Transforming the Workplace

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to make headlines as the technology is further developed. Not only is AI impacting people’s everyday lives at home through virtual assistants and online shopping recommendations, it is also a tool that can benefit the workplace.

One of the main advantages is using machine learning technology to gather data. This type of algorithmic AI can help lower costs, lower error rates, and improve capabilities. In the human resources field, AI software can speed up the hiring process by reviewing resumes for open positions and asking candidates questions. Personal AI assistants can assist in administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments and transcribing recorded meetings. While AI software offers valuable benefits to businesses, implementation is often expensive and time-consuming. There is generally a learning curve as employees become familiar with tools and platforms.

How to close the skills gap

Market predictions estimate that AI will be a $97.6 billion USD industry by 2023. According to IBM, up to 120 million workers will need to be retrained in the next three years. Businesses need a strategic plan to ensure a smooth transition. Unfortunately, only 41% of businesses are prepared for the shift.

“Organizations are facing mounting concerns over the widening skills gap and tightened labor markets with the potential to impact their futures as well as worldwide economies,” says Amy Wright, Managing Partner, IBM Talent & Transformation, IBM. “Yet while executives recognize the severity of the problem, half of those surveyed admit that they do not have any skills development strategies in place to address their largest gaps. And the tactics the study found were most likely to close the skills gap the fastest are the tactics companies are using the least. New strategies are emerging to help companies reskill their people and build the culture of continuous learning required to succeed in the era of AI.”

How can organizations plan for this change in technology? Methods to consider include:

  • Planning to retrain employees based on your business priorities 
  • Hiring outside talent with the desired skills
  • Offering educational programs and courses to shorten the learning curve
  • Personalizing learning to ensure relevancy to employees and their career goals
  • Offering incentives during the retraining process to help motivate employees

Does AI take jobs?

Some people worry that as the world becomes more automated, machines will replace humans entirely. Their fear is that machines will serve as lower-cost alternatives, which would make job hunting more difficult. 

However, working robots more commonplace in many Japanese cities. One popular model is Pepper, a 4 foot (122cm) tall humanoid robot. Throughout Japan, Europe, and select U.S. locations, about 15,000 Peppers can be found in banks, grocery stores, restaurants, and other businesses. In bank lobbies for example, Pepper gives customers information about mortgage rates or credit cards. This allows customers to get basic without waiting in line for a teller.

Because it is a low-risk interaction, Kass Dawson of Softbank Robotics, notes that people seem to prefer interacting with Pepper as opposed to regular tellers. Customers do not have to worry about being rude if they walk away after getting an answer to a simple question.

Will robots like Pepper replace people in the workforce? “We’re not actually replacing jobs. As you saw with Pepper, we’re replacing tasks,” says Dawson. “In the interaction with Pepper, it can’t do everything that a human can do and that’s not the intent of it.”

Robots like Pepper cannot make all of the decisions a real person can. Instead, they can make easy decisions while leaving the harder, complex choices for people.

Artificial Intelligence and Ethics

As AI continues to grow and integrate with various aspects of business, there’s never been a greater need for practical artificial intelligence and ethics training. IEEE offers continuing education that provides professionals with the knowledge needed to integrate AI within their products and operations. Artificial Intelligence and Ethics in Design, a two-part online course program, is designed to help organizations apply the theory of ethics to the design and business of AI systems. It also serves as useful supplemental material in academic settings.

Contact an IEEE Content Specialist to learn more about how this program can benefit your organization.

Interested in getting access for yourself? Visit the IEEE Learning Network (ILN) today!

 

Resources

(September 2019). The enterprise guide to closing the skills gap. IBM. 

Brown, Shelby. (6 September 2019). 120 million workers will need to be retrained due to AI, says IBM study. CNET.

(6 September 2019). IBM Study: The Skills Gap is Not a Myth, But Can Be Addressed with Real Solutions. IBM Newsroom.

Margolis, Jason. (8 September 2019). Will humanoid robots really steal our jobs?. The Week. 

Benenson, Fred. (8 September 2019). AI Is Coming for Your Favorite Menial Tasks. The Atlantic. 

Press. Gil. (10 September 2019). Artificial Intelligence (AI) Stats News: 120 Million Workers Need To Be Retrained Because Of AI. Forbes.

Uzialko, Adam C. (22 April 2019). How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Business. Business News Daily.

Green, Jessica. 21 Ways AI Is Transforming the Workplace in 2019. Spoke.

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