AI and humans can coexist in new ‘hyperproductive’ organisations

Source: Computerworld (UK), Jan 2017

A joint report by Goldsmiths University and ‘cognitive science’ service provider IPSoft paints a rosy picture for the role artificial intelligence will play in boosting productivity within the workforce.

According to the report, titled FuturaCorp: Artificial Intelligence & the Freedom to Be Human, developments in AI will drastically alter the way in which organisations operate, and bring in a raft of new roles that will reward more uniquely human capabilities like imagination and creativity.

“One of the main findings is an alternative to the dystopian views that have been projected out about job losses, and automation entering the workplace to replace human beings,” Brauer says. “This study found that the collaboration between smart machines has the potential to be more productive – a hyperproductive environment – where you’re maximising for the human and for the machine.”

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In short, Brauer believes that tasks suited to machines – monotonous and repetitious – should be outsourced to machines. But humans will, he thinks, be freed up to take on roles where humans are current irreplaceable, for example, in understanding design, empathy, creativity and strategy.

The roles are divided into three categories: cross-functional skills, probabilistic skills, and deterministic skills. Cross-functional skills include social intelligence, cultural knowledge, and adaptive thinking. Probabilistic skills are more suited to AI acting as a complementary technology to human beings, and could include new roles such as “AI interaction designers” – for instance, feeding the human understanding of design language into a machine.

“It’s almost like in order to embrace our humanity we have to embrace the AI and that’s a paradox for a lot of people,” Brauer says. “They see the AI as dehumanising us, whereas this study suggests the opposite.”

Related Resource: IPSoft, Jan 2017

By enabling companies to automate repetitive tasks and redeploy humans in higher-skill roles, FuturaCorp will realize a productivity jump of up to 3.5 times that of today’s organizations, according to the research. But, as we better understand how AI can complement and amplify the creative power of humans, this figure has the potential to rise significantly further.

The research describes job roles as comprised of a series of tasks. Some are repetitive and process-oriented (deterministic). Some require a human in concert with machines (probabilistic). Some rely on the types of connections that can only be made by the human brain, from ideas generation to complex problem solving (cross-functional reasoning). The Goldsmiths team expects that, in the not too distant future:

  • More than 80% of deterministic tasks will be done by machines
  • Probabilistic tasks will be shared 50:50 by machines and humans
  • But humans will still carry out 80% of all cross-functional reasoning tasks

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