People’s two biggest fears around technology are number one, cyber-attacks and number two, job loss. Logistical, administrative, and manufacturing jobs are most at risk of being replaced by automation. So what does this mean for us? History has shown that people will evolve and find a way to work alongside technology. Machines have been replacing jobs for centuries. Even farming animals have been replaced by tractors and other motorized equipment! Here's how we will adapt and how leadership won’t lose workers, but instead grow their workforce.
How we will fare
Talent and experience will always be valuable. Artificial Intelligence can provide the most accurate information, exact numbers and stats, but human intervention is necessary at times to make the best decision. How do you train a customer support chatbot to understand company culture and customers' tone? In part, you can. It can pick up on trigger words, categorize sentiment from negative, neutral to positive but an experienced representative should be used in conjunction with AI. Let’s say that an unhappy customer wants a refund on an item even though they’ve passed the 30-day limit. The chatbot is programmed to communicate company policies and refuses a refund. However, the customer is insistent and the issue isn’t being resolved to their satisfaction to which they’re getting more and more upset. Your company is known for customer service but that doesn’t mean that you can just give a refund to anyone who asks. So what is the chatbot to do? It can send a signal to a rep who can handle the situation better. The experienced worker will figure out and decide whether refusing this refund is worth potentially losing future business and loyalty of this customer. Technology can’t fully understand the importance of building customer loyalty and true customer service.
AI can create more jobs. Let’s go back to the chatbot example. Customer service chatbots can take care of menial work; answering FAQ’s, providing product info, relaying policy, etc. In turn, customer support employees can concentrate on building healthy relationships with their clients. While some things become automated, leadership should take advantage of workers’ free time to train them in areas that need improvement. Find the weak points in your company and build up employees to fill in the gaps. Best case scenario is that automation takes over routine tasks, freeing up workers’ time and allowing them to grow into more important roles, as they grow so will your company and you will end up hiring more people. This is what happened with ATM machines. Bank tellers spent less time handling money, so their jobs evolved and they had time to consult with clients and advise them on loans and credit card options with the bank. This brought in more money, which meant more banks were opened and more jobs created.
We’ve already started adapting as the job market is changing. The U.S. has seen a rise of STEM majors over the years and a slight decline in the humanities. Since 2009-2010 the number of STEM majors in bachelor’s degree-and-above programs has risen 43%, says this 2016 study, while degrees in the humanities declined -0.4%. Plus, since we’re seeing a societal push to get more women and young girls into math and science, there’s likely to be even more STEM graduates in the coming years.
Humans will never completely trust machines. Technology isn’t perfect and we see this every day when our GPS takes us on an awful left turn because it says you’ll save 2 minutes on your commute, when our phones or computers glitch or lag, or when a parrot manages to order something online through Amazon’s Alexa! People won’t be jumping into self-driving planes or leaving their kids in self-driving school buses any time soon. AI works best in conjunction with humans who understand the technology and can monitor it. It’s fair to argue that unions and public opinion will be a force to fight if we ever really get to a point where thousands of jobs are at risk to be completely lost to AI. Therefore, as sophisticated as AI becomes it will have an uphill battle to completely take away jobs.