The Rise of AI and its Impact on the Workplace [Part.1]

Should we fear Artificial Intelligence? Will AI take over our jobs? What are the benefits of AI? I’ll try to address these questions in this article.

Mathieu Croset
March 12, 2019

Note: This article is not meant to teach you what Artificial Intelligence or Machine learning is. It’s a reflexion about the evolution of the workplace and how AI will empower humans. I assume you have basic knowledge of the technology.

Artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals.
Machine learning is a field of computer science that often uses statistical techniques to give computers the ability to “learn” (i.e., progressively improve performance on a specific task) with data, without being explicitly programmed.

A world of Science Fiction

We live in a world where science fiction is now science. Just picture this: the year is 2003, 15 years ago, you are telling your friend, brother or your boss that in the next decade we will all have access to all the knowledge in the world, a super high-definition camera, a GPS, all the music available on this planet and that we will be able to communicate using video, for free, across the globe. That we will be able to do all this using a small device that fits in our pocket. Oh, and, using a touch-screen because… why not? Just imagine the look on their face. They would probably think that you are just a big nerd who watched Star Trek too many times. Are you?

Pictures of old techs

Technology is evolving at an incredible pace. Every day we discover new things and AI become more and more efficient.

When you think about it, it’s not crazy to conclude that in the next two decades 90% of our existing jobs will be automated. But here is the thing that people usually don’t grasp: To say that 90% of our existing jobs will be automated doesn’t mean that 90% of people will be out of jobs. AI is reshaping the way we work, it’s a disruption, not destruction.

How Artificial Intelligence Will Empower Humans

Technology is never good or bad. It’s what we do with the technology that matter. It’s our role to choose if we empower or if we crush humans with it.

Regardless whether we are afraid or not afraid, the change is coming and nobody can, nor should, stop it. Now the question is, how do we deal with it?

Humans Will Focus on Human Skills

Today, we spend hours and hours dealing with repetitive tasks. Yet, we are far from being good at it. From filling excel files to analysing body scans to identify tumors, humans are far from perfection. In fact, how could a doctor even compete with AI in identifying these tumors?

On one side, you have an emotional human trying to make a guess based on the experience accumulated over the years. On the other side, you have AI, trained with the data of millions of scans from around the world, using pattern recognition to identify and classify the tumor. Furthermore, the AI was not stuck in the traffic one hour before coming to work nor was it fighting with its husband or wife the night before. With AI we can eliminate human flaws, therefore, eliminate human mistakes.

The question is, do we need to compete with AI or can we work in collaboration with it? Yes, we can’t argue with the fact that AI is better than a Human to establish a diagnostic, but what about the relationship with the patient? Explaining what this diagnosis is about? What are the consequences? The solutions? You can replace a human on technical skills but, when it comes to empathy and social interactions, there is simply no competition.

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