Friend or Foe? Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

Artificial intelligence is exciting in conceptualisation at its best but for some people in certain work forces, terrifying at its worst. With its potential for automating various jobs, roles and processes in most organisations it can both revolutionise the efficiency of a business and deliver services faster, but it also has the potential to devastate an entire workforce of labourers. So the question comes to pass, should we fear Artificial Intelligence or embrace it?

Investment into Artificial Intelligence has accelerated from $282 million in 2011 up around 746% and in 2016 sat at about $3.9 billion dollars. Businesses in the modern age are attempting to keep up with the technological revolution. With more and more consumers demanding efficiency and shorter and shorter wait times.

According to Forbes, automation exists to save manual labor. Currently, AI and automation temporarily displace workers and tends to target certain industries. The fast food industry and some of the larger grocery store chains are the industries that have currently undergone technological changes with the introduction of self service checkouts. The fear of automation is mostly concentrated around these fundamental changes that have seen the responsibilities of staff of these organisations, who already receive low wages.

The key to easing and addressing these fears is to, on one hand, fight the popular understanding of what artificial intelligence is and what it means for the workforce and on the other hand maintain the balance between labour and efficiency in order to ensure no roles or positions are being unnecessarily automated.

Artificial intelligence also has the ability to create new careers, much like the shift from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing and urban based economy. It is about incorporating the labour front of the manufacturing workers with the efficiency of the technological age of artificial intelligence, in order to make the jobs of these labourers easier, rather than to replace their roles all together.

Artificial Intelligence has so much potential and can be more of a force for good than bad. The idea of a rampant and self autonomous intelligence is frequent and many within popular culture, however it is important to not allow this to halt people’s attempts to understand, control and utilise artificial intelligence to make people’s lives easier and better.


  • Vanessa Song, Social Media Coordinator

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