Anxiety about being replaced by machines has afflicted workers for centuries. If you’ve ever called someone a luddite, you may not have realized that the Luddites were an actual protest movement –– dedicated to preventing workers from being supplanted by machines in 1812. Their favorite target was the knitting machine they worried would replace hand-knitters. From the robot Maria in 1927’s Metropolis to the Terminator in the long-running franchise that began in 1984, our relationships with intelligent machines are complex. We’re afraid of them taking over even as we fear losing our humanity in the process.
Algorithms can help us find unusual TV shows or reconnect with college chums. They can also inspire hate groups. Artificial intelligence helps doctors diagnose cancer and traders discover an undervalued stock –– showing how AI can augment human intelligence, not replace it. So what are the benefits of artificial intelligence in the workplace?
Considered the parents of AI, Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy described it in the 1950s as “any task performed by a machine that would have previously been considered to require human intelligence.” AI can liberate people from the drudgery of
performing tasks that are tedious, repetitive or mundane. This lets them concentrate on what they do best –– being creative problem solvers.
The Internet has exponentially expanded a company’s potential customer base. The downside is that the number of customers with concerns or problems has also increased exponentially. Staffing phone banks is expensive; outsourcing customer service overseas is problematic. Chatbots can winnow the number of customers contacting a company. They can be waiting 24/7 –– able to comprehend formal and casual dialogue and even slang or emojis. Humans need to oversee this for unusual issues or for customers dissatisfied with chatbot responses.
Data is incredibly valuable but too much of it is overwhelming. Enterprises generate data through customers, employees, and processes –– and it’s easy to neglect or lose it. Using simple text commands, an employee can get a chatbot to sort the data. AI can generate automated insights about your business and identify problem areas while people can oversee solutions.
AI can notice changes in patterns and isolate trends. Modern AI can also compile detailed reports and conduct deep-content analysis. Data analysis is a labor intensive task that has been simplified as the cognitive abilities of AI improves. One of the benefits of artificial intelligence in the workplace is it allows people freedom to be more creative or intuitive while mundane tasks are handled by machines for whom boredom is never an issue.
Assistants Who Don’t Make Mistakes
In an office, chatbots can act like virtual assistants –– doing everything from setting alarms to scheduling and canceling meetings. Complex international transactions can be accomplished with chatbots and bitcoin –- eliminating conversion fees.
Human error is inevitable while AI error generally occurs only when people have incorrectly inputted data. AI can perform increasingly complex cognitive tasks from bookkeeping to travel arrangements.
They Know Your Company Better Than You Do
The more products and services a business supplies, the more complex it becomes. AI means your customer care can be spot on –– assisting your customers while they shop. Chatbots can answer questions from a breadth of knowledge that would require a person to undergo years of training. Guiding a customer through your sales funnel is seamless with AI.
They can also help with business-to-business tasks like order placement or responding to information requests about a product or service. This can free up sales departments to focus on solid leads or increasing a business’s investment in your company’s product.
Augmenting Remote Work
As the pandemic has severely limited in-office tasks, AI has stepped up to augment administrative functions. Instead of forcing remote support teams to maintain company records, AI can not only oversee back-office work but seamlessly collate and analyze large data sets. AI has also assisted sales departments as purchase avenues have radically shifted during the 2020 pandemic.
Despite witnessing some of the most profound and disruptive changes in human history, even millennials can be resistant. It’s normal to worry about your career. Many experts suggest that nearly half of all jobs will be displaced by automation like that done by AI in the next 15 years. Some jobs, like truck driving may disappear. Yet in most cases. AI will compliment your skill set making it easier to do the best job possible.