November 16, 2017      

If you’re implementing robotics or artificial intelligence in your organization, then you’re helping to reshape the workplace for years to come. No matter what your title may be, you’re bound to face some key questions about the impact of these AI workers in the not-too-distant future.

But you won’t be alone. At the Chief Robotics Officer (CRO) Network Summit preceding RoboBusiness 2017, the future of these technologies was a hot topic. Attendees and presenters debated whether robots would replace existing jobs — and some wondered whether AI would be “hired,” not just as a replacement, but also in newly created positions.

Your future workforce could soon have many “invisible” and “virtual” workers. This is going to bring about a radical transformation in your organization’s core competencies, its capability matrix, and its cultural philosophies.

You will be challenged as a leader. Should you hire AI workers instead of humans? Is it moral to make such a choice? How will you balance your responsibilities to your people with your responsibilities to your business?

Business Takeaways:

  • Robotics and AI are being used increasingly across a wide range of industries, affecting many human jobs and workforce responsibilities.
  • Organizations are facing a sea change in core competencies and capabilities.
  • Business leaders considering AI workers must contend with questions about the balance between social and economic responsibilities.

Onboarding new AI workers

AI workers are not science fiction. It’s coming your way very, very soon. There are already business examples:

  • An Australian firm has developed a “diabetes coach” that is essentially an AI-based virtual agent. The coach is conducting trials in Pennsylvania.
  • A TV station in China has hired an “AI meteorologist.” The voice of the weather forecaster is so human-like that most viewers would assume it was a person.
  • Advertising firm McCann has appointed AI as a “creative director” in Japan. The amazing thing about this new creative director is that its millennial employees wanted the AI as a co-worker.
  • Enfield, a borough north of London, is using a cognitive agent named “Amelia.” The virtual employee can understand human voice as well as the emotion behind that voice.
  • An investment firm in Hong Kong hired an AI as a new board member.

If your organization is considering employing AI workers, you will need to stay focused on a specific problem or task. At the same time, however, you should also consider the capabilities of algorithms, bots, and deep learning.

AI workers are not longer just science fiction

AI workers are no longer just science fiction.

What does your business need? Can AI provide it? What would the new capability matrix look like?

If you’re not considering these questions in your business planning, you’re not taking full advantage of the AI workers’ potential.

You will also want to consider the AI workers’ relationship with people. They can be internally focused — working directly with your human employees — or they can be externally focused, working directly with customers and consumers.

Either way, the experience matters. How will humans react and relate to AI workers?

More on AI and Jobs:

Your future workforce

Going forward, your workforce will be a hybrid. You will employ humans (retrained current employees and new hires). And you will employ robots (bots, robots, and other AI-enabled systems).

You will eventually need to redesign the workforce, analyze new capabilities, and help your humans successfully coexist with robots.

While today’s technology may have you addressing just one problem at a time, tomorrow’s “adaptive AI” will have you quickly adjusting to your business’s changing needs.

Technology by itself will not take your business forward; your vision will. The questions you ask yourself today will help shape how you foresee your hybrid workforce.