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AI In The Workplace: Why Robots Won't Replace Humans

28/04/2017 14:15

Artificial intelligence has for a long time been an all-powerful figment of our imagination, but with recent technological advances, this figment is becoming a reality. It seems that we are constantly hearing about, and subsequently fearing, how AI will replace humans in the working world and in the not too distant future. But perhaps this perceived dystopia isn't as bad as what we hear about and, in actual fact, is a utopia waiting to happen.

History of AI

AI isn't a new concept, in fact to some extent, it has been around for some time. Although more recently we have witnessed a rapid evolution of AI and seen how it is fast developing into a reality.

One of the first people credited for coming up with the idea of machines that think was Alan Turing in the 1950s. A mathematician and WWII code-breaker he was ridiculed in his day, but is now widely accepted as setting certain wheels in motion. These wheels have now led to a potential change in the course of human history.

Limited Technology

Whilst we are currently witnessing an explosion towards AI, the technology itself is still rather limited. It's fair to say that robots won't be replacing humans any time soon, as AI technology is simply not at the same level of cognitive thought that humans currently possess.

A good example of AI technology in its current working state is Baxter, a collaborative robot pioneered by the company 'rethink robotics', Baxter has already been integrated into workforces around the world. Whilst pioneering Baxter's current task range includes mostly repetitive tasks including; line loading, packaging etc. these tasks have been set out by humans for greater productivity in the workforce due to the AI being able to process these tasks much faster. At best it is safe to say that AI in its current form completes tasks that humans either do not want to do or are unable to do at a similar pace.

Whilst representing the current condition of technology, Baxter also represents what the working world could look like, setting the tone of our future 9 to 5 jobs, an environment of working together.

Future of AI

The future of AI looks harmonious, with AI and humans working together, complementing and working in tandem with one another.

For example, AI in the future may have the ability to notice and identify problems or patterns that humans either haven't yet or may never notice. It is then anticipated that the robots will provide humans with this information which they will then use to come up with a creative solution.

This interesting notion would change the way working environments are currently designed. Robots will transform how people find problems and revolutionise the way things are currently done, which in turn could increase productivity and help creativity.

Adapting

The question should be more evolved around how businesses will adapt to, what can be argued as, the inevitable development of AI. Working environments will need to evolve with this technology as it will have a big impact on both businesses and employment, but not entirely a negative one. The answer lies with an exploration into new and different routes of doing things as it is clear that businesses cannot stay the same after the introduction of AI.

The increased interest and investment into AI isn't intended to replace humans, merely complement them.The way things are currently done in a 9 to 5 job will need to evolve with the change of technology. However, this is not entirely a new concept as the development of technology has always transformed job roles in the working world.

It appears that the development of AI would amplify human abilities not override them. As AI in the workplace becomes more of a reality it is important to remember that whilst the typical working day may change it should be all about embracing new trends. If we do this then maybe this apparent dystopia can be seen for what it really is, a utopia just waiting to happen.

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