AI in the workplace: what you need to know today

5 min read | Tim Olsen | Article | Career development Industry insights Recruiting Workforce planning Information technology sector

AI in the workplace

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to dominate the media, and its speed of progression requires professionals and organisations alike to consider important questions today, rather than tomorrow.

In our recent What Workers Want 2023: Working With AI launch webinar, I joined fellow panellist, Katherine Holden, Head of Data Analytics, AI, and Digital ID at techUK, to discuss AI’s growing influence on the workplace. Here’s a recap of some of our key talking points:
 

Opportunity balanced with risk

According to our What Workers Want 2023: Working With AI report, 56% of employers and 49% of employees think AI should be embraced. Despite this largely positive outlook, there are still a number of unknowns that may deter wider adoption, and many are left uneasy by the tech’s dizzying progress.

56% of employers and 49% of employees think AI should be embraced.
From learning Persian to understanding logical puzzles, AI models are learning quickly and autonomously. The soaring sophistication of AI may open exciting opportunities, but equally raises certain ethical concerns. We’ve all seen deepfakes of famous figures, while Google’s Soundstorm can clone a voice in a matter of seconds. And alongside the spread of misinformation, generative AI is equally capable of propagating bias on scale.

On top of this, we don’t exactly know what AI neural networks are doing, making the tech something of a ‘black box’. It’s therefore vital that we can validate AI’s usage: from an organisational to an individual level, we all need to challenge and question generative AI’s decision-making and output.
 

AI could create more jobs than it takes

AI’s potential to automate routine tasks means that job displacement is inevitable, particularly within office administration and customer care. However, there’s also plenty to be excited about.

While AI will undoubtedly affect certain jobs, the focus would appear to be on augmentation rather than automation. And in some cases, AI may in fact lower the entry level for certain roles, from doctors to coders. Moreover, a report by the World Economic Forum predicted that AI and other tech innovations could create around 97 million new roles – a potential net gain of employment opportunities. We’re already seeing demand for data analysts, cyber professionals, AI ethicists, and a whole wider industry growing around the technology.

AI and other tech innovations could create around 97 million new roles

The medium-term issue then will not be the number of jobs – the real dilemma will be having the skills to fill the new ones. Unlike other tech revolutions, AI’s advance has been incredibly swift, meanings there’s a lag in upskilling people from the old roles to the new.
 

How should organisations handle AI?

Only one in five (20%) organisations say they are using AI, yet the majority of employers (66%) expect they will allow staff to use the tech in the future. As adoption inevitably increases, investing in people – an organisation’s most valuable asset – will be key going forward.

As adoption inevitably increases, investing in people – an organisation’s most valuable asset – will be key going forward.

Organisations need to create a safe, transparent, and nurturing environment for AI use. Clear guidelines will be a must, combined with comprehensive upskilling strategies that ensure everybody is on the same playing field. Employees should feel as though AI is being adopted to support and aid them, rather than being built to replace them.
 

How can individuals leverage AI?

AI literacy will be a necessity in the near future, yet this won’t require you to be a tech savant. It’s enough to simply familiarise yourself with current AI tools, playing around with the different options on offer, including the likes of Bard and ChatGPT.
 

AI should be treated as an eager yet unreliable intern

However, it’s still important to be aware of AI’s shortcomings – from exaggerating bias to hallucinating facts. AI should be treated as an eager yet unreliable intern: an agent that can take care of some legwork, but whose output also requires checking.

Interested in learning more about AI’s influence on the world of work? Request access to our report today.

You can also catch up on the full webinar.

 

About this author

Tim Olsen - Making Intelligent Automation scale, consultant, futurist, influencer and speaker.
 

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