The role of humans in our increasingly AI-empowered world; AI doesn’t mean human intelligence takes the back-seat

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Am I going to be replaced by a robot?

I found a website that told me there’s a 13% chance my job will be replaced by a robot. To be fair that’s pretty good odds compared to accountants/auditors at 94% probability, bus drivers at 67%, and bakers at 89%.

Whilst some of the tabloids share a fairly doom and gloom outlook: ‘Humanity will live in a ‘hellish dystopia’ as robots takes over billions of jobs leaving people to lead meaningless and miserable lives, claims scientist’, I personally believe the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation will have a positive impact on society. Working in tandem, humans and AI have the potential to deliver improved customer experience and create higher levels of job satisfaction through a more challenged workforce.

How is the role of human employees evolving?

I want to start by drawing on a couple of real world examples:

Consider a courtroom judge. They assess presented evidence to make a ruling on its accordance with the law in the pursuit of justice. They are analysing whether article A (the evidence) is compliant with article B (the local laws). As the law is fixed, article A will categorically be true or false. This sort of logical reasoning lends itself well to AI solutions.

But at what point does a judge-less courtroom require a human to step in? There’s no doubt that AI can save time and resource assessing the matter of fact elements; it could even consider early guilty pleas. But it would struggle to consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances, general demeanour, feelings of remorse, and whether there was intent. It’s these complexities that require human decision-making laced with empathy and understanding.

Now consider a school. Can you imagine a teacher-less classroom? In principle AI can learn the curriculum, pick up best practice teaching methodologies, and interact with students. But a teacher imparts more than just the syllabus, and we’d be doing a disservice to our youth to forget this. The dynamic between student and teacher teaches lessons of respect, authority and professional boundaries.

Here at Capgemini we recently surveyed 10,000 consumers and 500 executives from leading organisations to underpin our report on ‘The Secret to Winning Customers’ Hearts with Artificial Intelligence’. The report explains that 55% of 18-34 year old consumers want a mix of human and AI interaction, and only 28% still want human-only interaction. This aligns with the aforementioned idea that AI can only deliver within its defined capacity, and that at some point, a human must intervene to deliver the more empathetic and emotive requirements.

How should organisations transition to a blended workforce while still adhering to customer preferences?

Michael Natusch, Head of AI at Prudential Plc, coins the term ‘Augmented Intelligence’ in Capgemini’s Digital Transformation review.  This is the idea that AI can augment human employees by adding to their capabilities rather than replacing them. This is explored further in Capgemini’s recent AI report which describes a world where AI relieves employees from repetitive tasks, and supports them in decision-making, which allows them to shift their focus to improving customer-facing interactions.

We are noticing trends which give us some insight into the types of roles soon to dominate our job market. As traditional factory work and admin roles decrease, we’re seeing a rise in demand for programming and machine maintenance. From trainers to set the rules and parameters in which the machines will learn, to analysers to interpret the recommendations and predictions that AI churns out, and of course the demand for individuals to set regulatory governance to ensure AI is used for good. In order to understand where these roles fit within an organisation, we need to first understand the responsibilities that fall within a specific job role, then identify the mono-skilled and repetitive tasks, and then we can begin to structure required AI support and development opportunities.

If our ‘north star’ is a world where menial tasks are completed by AI and humans complete higher level strategic thinking and decision making, how can we undertake this transformation while still satisfying the customer? Capgemini’s AI report highlights two key customer preferences that companies need to consider.

The first idea is that just because an interaction can be automated through AI, doesn’t mean it should be. The example given is that consumers are comfortable purchasing a car via a bot, however if they had a car accident they would prefer to speak to a human which provides a more empathetic and reassuring ear.

The second idea is to ensure transparency. They found that 66% of consumers would like to be made aware when companies are enabling interactions via AI, and this figure rises to 71% in the Financial Services sector. If you don’t realise that you’re talking to a computer until midway through a conversation you’re likely to feel deceived; to build meaningful consumer relationships companies must gain the trust of their consumers.

How can we prepare future generations for success?

We’re witnessing technological advances replacing, augmenting, and even creating jobs. We must therefore revaluate the scope of the future job market; one shared with AI. The challenge is how we prepare future generations for jobs so new that they haven’t even been created yet.

Right now, our school systems are structured around syllabuses which students are expected to understand, and in some cases apply. But both understanding and applying are core AI capabilities. We need to own our USP by investing in training for the ‘soft skills’: emotional intelligence, critical thinking, creativity, innovation, and curiosity – these are just a few examples of pure human abilities which give us the edge.

The future of business is an active partnership between human and machine. We just need to make sure that humans are ready for the challenge.

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