Looking for a new job and worried about your competition? Maybe they’ve got a better CV than you or a few more years’ experience, or they do better at interviews. Or maybe they’ve got a brain made out of wires and the benefit of millions of hours of training.

That’s right – it’s not enough to have to fend off your fellow man or woman – you’ve now got to take on computers, too. 

Artificial intelligence is commonly cited by technologists, politicians and pretty much everyone in between as a game-changer. We’ve seen the world turned completely upside down by technological change as part of the Information Age, and some argue that the combination of those two things, data and computers, will cause the next big jump.

As artificially intelligent machines increasingly gain the ability to do jobs we once considered the confines only of people – making complex financial or health decisions, for instance, onlookers have started to question what this will do to the world of work and by extension our economies and our daily lives.

After all, they argue, when robots can do everything, what will be left for people to do? And where will the money go? Sitting around all day watching Netflix is nice every once in a while, but not for a lifetime. 

And recent opinion polls have shown that smart machines may be starting to gain the trust of workers. An Oracle study recently found that 64% of people “would trust a robot more than their manager and half have turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice”. 

Perceptions of AI

Despite “common fears around how AI will impact jobs”, the study said, employees, managers and HR leaders around the world are reporting “increased adoption of AI at work and many are welcoming AI with love and optimism”.

Alongside more appreciative attitudes, AI is also becoming increasingly common. This year, the study found, the technology was used in some form by half of all workers, compared to only 32% last year. 

There are regional variations in the uptake and in the perception of artificial intelligence. Workers in China (77%) and India (78%) have adopted AI over two times more than those in France (32%) and Japan (29%), the study found.

Around two-thirds of workers, the study said, are “optimistic, excited and grateful about having robot co-workers” and – quite amazingly – nearly a quarter “report having a loving and gratifying relationship with AI at work”. Let’s hope it’s only at work.

The major Asian economies, which are highly tech-driven and innovative, said they were most excited about artificial intelligence. In India, 60% of workers reported that they were excited about the technology, 56% in China, 44% in the UAE and 41% in Singapore. Compare that with a paltry 22% in the US, one-fifth in the UK and a lowly 8% in France, and it’s clear that there is a gulf in the adoption and view of AI around the world.

Dealing with AI at work

But Dan Schawbel, who helped carry out the study – and who has also authored bestseller “Back to Human”, says there is hope for us yet. For instance, humans offer a range of skills that robots are currently nowhere near mastering, such as empathy and culture creation.

Managing “soft” tasks such as these may be the key role of the workforce in the future, Schawbel told Reuters, while “hard” tasks, such as data analysis, can be left to the robots. 

This dichotomy, or as Schawbel sees it, collaboration, may lead to a shorter workday, as humans will only have to work on judgement-based tasks rather than simple administrative work, which is often time-consuming. 

There are plenty of examples of AI and humans working together, Schawbel says, and this, he argues, is the future. Maybe prepare for your next colleague to be a machine. 

 

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