In the trending arena of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is worthwhile to understand the pulse of the people towards its need, purpose, hype and reality.
Sometime back, I initiated a self-driven survey on LinkedIn comprising of six questions to know what people think about the future of AI, how it is impacting their current work and possibly the future of work due to digital disruption. I have pulled in the survey results and shall try to draw some interesting insights with all of you. The intention of this survey is purely for educational purpose and the responses do not form any general opinion or conclusion on any point.
What do you think the future of AI will be?
70% of the respondents feel that the future of AI is bright because it will become a necessity to keep up with the changing scenario to increase human efficiency and innovation. While 20% of respondents feel that it is an immediate need of the hour and only 10% feel that the future of AI is weak. We cannot ignore this 10% of the people who feel that AI is not going to bring that advantage and it is more of a hype than reality.
The problem with the understanding of AI is that it is treated as simply the system enabling automation engineering which overshadows its highest benefit of human augmentation — a combination of human and artificial intelligence, where both complement each other.
Do you think AI will replace or reduce existing workforce?
80% of the respondents feel that it will impact the existing workforce to some extent, and I believe it is evident from the following press release from Gartner. While only 10% of the respondents feel that it will impact the existing workforce significantly.
According to the following press release in Dec 2017, Gartner predicted that “AI will create 2.3 million jobs in 2020, while eliminating 1.8 million”.
The above 70% and 20% of the respondents to first question who feel that the future of AI is bright, and it is an immediate need of the hour gives a clear reflection of confidence which can help in endorsing the human augmentation by removing the fear of consequences of elimination of 1.8 million jobs versus creation of 2.3 million. It’s important that people stay relevant to obtain these new jobs.
Is your organization sensitized to the disruption created by AI?
60% of the respondents feel that their organizations are sensitized to some extent to the disruption created by AI while only 30% feel that either their organizations are not sensitized or neutral in their attitude and actions towards AI. This is an important segment as they will soon become the laggers as compared to the 10% leaders who are highly sensitized towards the disruption created by AI.
Now, it is not only about how machines can take decisions or do predictions but also about AGI (Artificial General Intelligence- think, understand and learn like humans) which humans can provide when they work cohesively with the machines doing specialized AI only. When we counter superintelligence, which is a state when the hypothetical or virtual agent exceeds human intelligence, we are restricting the human intelligence to grow and unleash its unexplored potential.
Do you think AI is impacting your current work and existence in the organization?
60% of the respondents feel that AI is impacting their current work and existence in the organization to some extent. It becomes important that there is a need to understand the future of work and how will the existing routine work be transformed or transferred to virtual workforce to improve the innovative and critical thinking of human workforce.
As per the above Gartner report, it is also predicted that “In 2021, AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity.”
These 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity could be utilized in high valued tasks such as improving the morale of the human workforce, building a cohesive and progressive environment to retain the talent and, thus, augmenting the human capital.
According to Karl Marx’s theory of alienation, in the capitalist mode of production, the generation of products (goods and services) is accomplished with an endless sequence of discrete, repetitive motions that offer the worker little psychological satisfaction for “a job well done”. By means of commodification, the labor power of the worker is reduced to wages (an exchange value); the psychological estrangement (Entfremdung) of the worker results from the unmediated relation between his productive labor and the wages paid to him for the labor. The worker is alienated from the means of production via two forms; wage compulsion and the imposed production content. The worker is bound to unwanted labour as a means of survival, labour is not “voluntary but coerced” (forced labor). [Source: Wikipedia]
The above theory rightly applies to the manual and mundane repetitive tasks being executed by the workforce in an IT business process which gives little psychological satisfaction and does not actually utilize the power of the human brain. Over a period, the worker is alienated from the process; since it becomes a routine activity and no further innovation or productivity gain is envisioned. Hence, this mundane/labour intensive job requiring no expert judgment can be shifted to a virtual workforce making the human workforce spend valuable time on innovation and improving the human-made artificial intelligent systems.
Do you and your organization focus on reskilling and upskilling to deal with the digital disruption?
Only 30% feel that their organizations are highly focused on reskilling and upskilling which creates a huge gap between strategy design and its implementation. Organizations which are partially focused treat AI as their goal or objective which is usually short-term perspective to stay in the business but in order to thrive, they need to treat AI as their strategy which is a long-term initiative.
This also highlights that the organizations which are not focused or neutral towards reskilling and upskilling will add to the global disparity and will create a risk for themselves by letting their customers realign with other vendors/partners.
How many of your existing customers’ request for building AI and ML enabled systems?
This question has the most fascinating response with 60% of people responding that large number of existing customers request for building AI and ML-enabled systems even though the response to the above question shows that only 30% of people feel that organizations are highly focused on reskilling and upskilling and 40% are partially focused. This clearly shows a gap between demand and supply and hence a need for more skilled people in this area to cater to the in-flight or in-pipeline requirements.
It’s an opportunity to sustain, grow, compete, thrive and stay relevant to attain the business agility where teams can build innovative business solutions with high quality not only improving the operational efficiency with cost savings but embarking the new journey for exponential socio-economic growth. Nonetheless, it also obviates the myths and trough of despair towards AI enabling lowering the cost of making predictions and increasing the value of human judgment and supremacy.