There's a lot of talk these days about AI and automation and the role it will have in the future. New machines, smart devices, and AI technology are being added to a number of industries and already having a big impact. No one really knows for sure what will happen, but we can guess based off what has been shown in science fiction movies and books. In a lot of those examples, AI takes over and replaces humans. But should we really be scared about the future?

Most people can agree that we aren't really at risk for robots taking over the earth from humans. The greater fear is that machines will take over jobs traditionally held by humans. It's been a big debate over recent years--will machines create more jobs than they replace, or will they replace more jobs than they create? There are strong opinions and evidence on both sides. We're already seeing some machines take over responsibilities in areas like customer service, transportation, and manufacturing, and some people believe that job replacement will continue to spread. Others believe that robots will actually create more jobs by opening up new technology and allowing people to focus on new and different areas of their businesses. We've also seen that with the growth of jobs responsible for overseeing automation and implementing AI practices within companies.

Part of the reason people are so worried about robots is that we have so much technology and instant communication these days and can know about advances almost as soon as they happen. If a self-driving car starts taking people around a city and takes away the need for a human driver, we'll know about almost instantly, just like we would if a company fired all of its call center employees and replaced them with robots or chatbots. Before the internet, new technology could be created without everyone knowing about it right away, which meant the potential impact of new technology wasn't known around the world. That's not the case today--it's nearly impossible to turn on the news or surf the internet without hearing about some form of robots or automation. That uncertainty and rapid spread of information and speculation is a huge driver of fear.

Perhaps the best way to solve the problem is to talk about it more. By starting conversations about the impact of automation around the world, more people can be aware of the technology and what it can do. Understanding the unknown is the best way to conquer fear, so having a better understanding of what automation is and what it is (and isn't) capable of can help calm some people's fears. A number of companies around the world are finding great success implementing AI--involving them in a conversation to learn from their experiences and to establish best practices can help other organizations follow in their footsteps as they move into the unknown future.

The bottom line is that we don't know for sure what automation and AI will do to the future of work. However, instead of wasting time worrying about it, we can throw ourselves into building human connections to safeguard our jobs and preparing for ways we can implement new technology in a way that increases efficiency without losing quality and the human touch. There's no way to predict if a massive job replacement will occur, but perhaps by talking about it on a global level, we'll have a better idea of what to expect and can perhaps even stop the problem before it occurs.

Published on: Jan 26, 2018