Will AI Be My Friend Or Foe At Work?
Whether we see it as a threat or a practical productivity booster, artificial intelligence is shifting the way we work. Embracing AI at work and harnessing its power to find efficiencies, can open up a new realm of possibilities. AI allows people to focus more on distinctly human tasks like creativity, empathy and intuition by freeing workers from repetitive tasks and managing high volumes of data.
On this episode of Productivity Confidential, we sat down with Chris Heilmann from Microsoft, to discuss what AI means for the workforce, productivity and its effect on the job market.
Highlights from the podcast:
TED BROWN: Humans are good at certain tasks, and AI and computers are good at other tasks. Can you give me another example where a human really excels at something that a computer is still figuring out its way around, or struggling to understand because we just don’t have the skill set to give them the tools to understand it?
CHRIS HEILMANN: I think the best example is human communication. Our communication is fraught with error. Basically, something like sarcasm, something like irony, something like a rhetorical question, a computer or a program could never understand, but as a human I can actually understand it when I’m with the other person.
Communication is about 60 percent facial recognition and our body language, the rest is what we say … So when we talk to each other, or even when we communicate and write to each other, we use things like irony, sarcasm, rhetorical questions, these are things that computers have a hard time doing.
Other than that, when it comes where humans are bad, humans are bad at really, really repetitive tasks. If we do boring tasks like going through millions of spreadsheets to find a certain pattern or find a certain value, we’re actually getting worse the longer we do it.
When we get bored, we make mistakes. Same as a factory worker, when they do the same hand movement or the same functionality all the time, they make mistakes, and then it becomes dangerous because they might hurt themselves or others. So that’s where computers are much better. Everything that is repetitive, everything that’s boring, everything that is just following a certain task.
BROWN: This episode is titled, AI, Friend or Foe; and I want to hear from you, AI, friend or foe?
HEILMANN: Definitely friend, because it makes us more productive, it allows us to actually be faster than we were, and it stops us from having to do repetitive boring tasks. When it comes to the foe part of it, that would be the human or the companies using it against us or with us.
So if data is withheld, if there’s no transparency, if the AI is basically used to filter out people without giving them information about it, then we have a problem in our hand that AI is used as a weapon. That’s not the fault of the program, that’s not the fault of the algorithm, that’s the fault of the humans wielding it for profit or whatever reason that they want to.
That’s why it’s important that all of us are actually interested in what AI is and what AI can do, rather than just looking at it, “Oh, it’s magical. I can use it but I don’t understand it.”
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