How AI could impact the working environment of the future.

How AI could impact the working environment of the future.

Most forms of new technology have benefits and drawbacks, and AI is no exception to this rule. Slowly but surely it is integrating itself into the world of business, bringing with it potential successes and disasters, depending on how it is used. It has been suggested by some that simply applying AI to an aspect of a business, be it a supply chain or a piece of marketing, could add value and create profit.

The amount of control corporations will have by including AI into their business is impressive. Some have begun producing wristbands to track warehouse workers movement, and a similar concept can be applied to ID badges, in an effort to increase efficiency. Now whilst workplace surveillance isn’t exactly new, the amount of valuable data available to employers will be uniquely a result of AI. Now this has obvious benefits for them, productivity and efficiency will be increased. And for employees, there will be improvements. The advancement of augmented reality, especially in headsets, provides a unique opportunity, in all industries. One example though is that of construction. Being able to see pipes in the ground without having to dig to them seems a way to save both time and money, and when combined with the tracking information mentioned earlier, overseers will be able to improve the safety of the workplace. Having the ability to alert workers as to the location of potential hazards before someone discovers them first hand clearly creates a safer working environment.

But there are worries. The fear that machines could take jobs meant for humans is fairly commonplace, and there are concerns about the amount of data a company will have on its employees, especially given a newfound concern for how much social media giant know about us. Some companies go as far as to trach every press of a button on a keyboard, and this kind of behaviour may be seen as a step too far. And in the relentless quest for efficiency, there is a worry that AI could influence the hiring and firing of employees.

Now this does have its benefits. Some interviewers have unconscious biases, and whilst the question as to whether such biases affect ones decision is up for debate, it is, at the very least, worth asking. No such worry for an algorithm, provided it was designed to be free from the biases of the programmer. But let us say that an algorithm is monitoring productivity. As we get older, often we work more slowly. Does that mean that one will be recommended for dismissal by a computer upon reaching a point where your work is slower than said computer would like?

Artificial Intelligence in the workplace obviously has positives. Increased efficiency and safety, as well as being able to provide us with better feedback about what we do well and what we can improve, is a great way to increase productivity, potentially far beyond what is currently possible. But there are definite privacy trade–offs, which means that companies will have to tread carefully, especially since new European data protection regulations have come into effect. There are also concerns about what sacrifices will be made in the name of progress, and some implications of using AI to chase increased efficiency above all else are difficult to reconcile with.