AI in the workplace means you must think more about humans not less

Employees must focus on enhancing their innately human skills to prepare for the future of work

Live with AI launched the second edition of its annual report that aims to dispel the popular myths surrounding artificial intelligence, and offer clear, actionable advice for governments, brands and organisations as the AI-powered future draws closer. Live with AI and its research on AI & Work were featured in the freshly released Singapore National AI Strategy. Live with AI handed over the report to Tan Kok Yam, Deputy Secretary, Smart Nation & Digital Government at Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore, and His Excellency Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore.

The findings from the report revealed that jobs are not likely to be eradicated wholesale with the introduction of AI, but augment jobs task by task. As every job can be broken down into tasks, it’s important to use tasks to track the impact of technology, chart clearer pathways between jobs and improve work prospects for people. As a result of the AI revolution, AI-enhanced human roles will emergeEmployees must focus on enhancing their innately human skills such as critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence and em­pathy, as well as persuasion and negotiation to prepare for the future of work.

“This is our responsibility to positively drive our AI revolu­tion and leverage artificial intelligence to build sustain­able future for our business and societies, accessible to all and for all. Live with AI aims to gather independent thoughts to design a human-centric vision of this world empowered with AI,” says Pierre Robinet, Founder of Live with AI & Senior Partner of Ogilvy Consulting Asia.

This year, the Singapore-based Live with AI think-tank, in partnership with the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at SUTD and DataRobot conducted an applied research on the impact AI would have on eight jobs including Senior Art Director in advertising, Customer Service Specialists from Insurance, Investment Consulting from the banking industry and Maintenance technician in advanced manufacturing.

According to the report, the most valuable tasks for employees will be preserved either because technology has not yet demonstrated any disruption potential or because humans will be enhanced by technology.

These are specific tasks that can be automated in the near future to enhance jobs:

  • Processing new insurance policies and claims by a customer service specialist is predicted to be 100% automated in the next 1-2 years, as generating cover notes and policies can be done through robotic process automation. However, providing customer service by assisting and responding to customers is predicted to be partially impacted (50%) and would require more human attention and time.
  • The machine might potentially provide up to 25% of overall creative concept generation and will augment the job of a Senior Art Director in a creative agency in the mid-term future.
  • Conducting online market research to identify trends may be technically led by algorithms (75%) in 10 years but would need to remain partially in human hands to preserve human creativity.
  • AI is predicted to support at least 50% of the task of preparing sales proposals in advertising by gathering content and critical elements. Though the Account Director in a creative agency will spend the same amount of time on such a task as deliverables are excepted to be more qualitative.

  • The task of managing client portfolios and plans by Investment Consultants in banking might be automated by 50% in the next 1-2 years as machines can check whether portfolios are outside of a defined tolerance. In the meantime, AI will enhance the role significantly by identifying investment products and ideas that can be vetted by the investment consultant and by creating insight and analysis that can be valuable to improve the client relationship.
  • Predictive maintenance for heavy equipment is predicted to be 50% automated in the next 5 to 10 years, augmenting the job of a maintenance technician, enhancing productivity, and improving safety. The role of repairing and maintaining equipment will remain in human hands who will outperform the machine in problem-solving.

Key takeaways

The disruption to jobs in future will come slowly – by approaching jobs based on the tasks required, it helps companies be well prepared, and to have a better understanding on how and what kind of daily activities will be impacted. Companies need to consider the value each task brings to employees, businesses and the society to design human-centric AI transformation strategies and ensure that people are not left behind.

Having concrete examples leads to starting a discussion with an organisation’s entire workforce and assessing their appetite to embrace change in their job roles.

Companies could use AI to automate menial administrative tasks, freeing up people to focus on the work that requires greater cognitive capacity. However, some of the people interviewed during the research stated that they look forward to – and even valued – the mundane tasks in their otherwise hectic workday, as they provide a reprieve from the high pressure of other areas of their job. 

“Live with AI adds the power of the community to our shared aspirations for a human-centred AI future. The combination of AI expertise from leading companies think tanks, and universities increase the odds that we will find smart solutions to benefit the many, and not just a few. That is why we are happy to be a part of Live with AI, because we believe in melding an acute appreciation of our shared humanity with a clear focus on the power of technology and design to uplift lives in our societies,” says Poon King Wang, Director of the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities at SUTD.

For artificial intelligence to coexist with humans, it must be trusted; it must have human values. Live with AI’s research shows how to bring human values into AI use cases, and how humans can prepare for the future of work,” says Colin Priest, VP AI Strategy, DataRobot.

More about the Live with AI Report 2019

In addition to this applied research on the future of work, the report also provides applicable recommendations on future healthcare models to serve the ageing population and designing human-centric and cross-border ethical frameworks to ensure trustworthiness and fairness in AI-decision making.

The report highlights several points of views from Asia and Europe to help policymakers build a human-centric AI. This includes:

  • The importance of assessing the literary and cultural representation of AI, which will help to shape public perception is crucial for garnering acceptance
  • Create systems and algorithms that are transparent in making AI responsive and responsible for social needs. Sufficient information about how an algorithm or system works needs to be publicly available and understandable
  • The challenge of building a globally inclusive AI. For AI to be truly inclusive, it cannot ignore cultural and demographic differences, and should not essentialize or “hard-code” those differences either. This requires new AI technologies to be ontologically versatile, along with the empowerment of under-represented groups in AI development

Conducted by a team of hundred experts from different backgrounds (industry, academics, start-up), and supported by Ogilvy, AXA, JCDecaux and AVEVA, this applied research aimed to achieve alignment on the these jobs’ disruption and the future of our society. This helped Live with AI to define some ideal paths to follow when pursuing an AI enterprise transformation and debate the critical tasks and skills which we believe would need to be protected and remain in human hands.

This research was done over 6 months in 2019 in Singapore, and the outcome of collective discussions with experts can be considered as a prototype that can inform the industry and academic research. The research has combined qualitative – especially human interviews (interviews with employees, and experts) – with quantitative analytics. The research comprises a point of view and reference which will help decision-makers pursue human-centric leadership that leverages fantastic human strengths to work better with AI.

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Mark Ko

Besides tech, I love chicken rice. Point me in the right direction and I'll go and try it. :)

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