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What’s the Future Impact of AI Technology on the Workplace?

Artificial intelligence (AI) promises to revolutionize the workplace, thanks to its potential to slash overhead costs, enhance productivity and help drive innovation.

“Talented people, even if they aren’t in a tech-focused job, want access to leading-edge tools.” The good news is that professionals who are eager to work with AI technology won’t likely need to wait long for it be used widely in their workplace.

A global research study from consulting firm Protiviti, a Robert Half subsidiary, and research firm ESI ThoughtLab notes that while “most companies are still at the starting gate” with AI technology, a “sizable majority of companies are fast tracking AI applications and expecting to see significant gains in profitability, productivity, revenue and shareholder value in as little as two years.” The research suggests that most businesses soon will be applying advanced AI to almost every function, including human resources and talent management.

Robert Half’s research for the Jobs and AI Anxiety report shows that many employers already understand this: Nearly half (47%) of the more than 1,200 U.S. managers surveyed said they expect the rise of technological advancements such as AI and robotics in the workplace will require their team members to learn new skills.

Here’s a look at how AI technology is already having an impact on how employees are trained and hired, along with more insight into what the human-AI partnership might look like in the future workplace: Protiviti and ESI ThoughtLab’s research found that only a small fraction of companies (about 4%) globally are seeing a notable impact from using advanced AI in their staffing and talent management operations.

The technology has proven useful in helping companies better understand the relationship between team-building and productivity — in one case, discovering that close-knit sales teams perform better than teams split across different locations.

Assessing a candidate’s interpersonal skills, negotiating compensation and persuading candidates to accept a job offer are all examples where human interaction and judgment are crucial — and where AI technology has yet to crack the surface.

Algorithmic Intelligence Has Gotten So Smart, It's Easy To Forget It's Artificial

The word itself is derived from the name of a 9th-century Persian mathematician, and the notion is simple enough: an algorithm is just any step-by-step procedure for accomplishing some task, from making the morning coffee to performing cardiac surgery.

But algorithms got harder to ignore when they started taking over tasks that used to require human judgment — deciding which criminal defendants get bail, winnowing job applications, prioritizing stories in a news feed.

How can I trust Facebook's algorithms to get hate speech right when they've got other algorithms telling advertisers that my interests include The Celebrity Apprentice, beauty pageants and the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame?

It's hard to resist anthropomorphizing these algorithms — we endow them with insight and intellect, or with human frailties like bad taste and bias.

Disney actually personified the algorithm literally in their 2018 animated movie Ralph Breaks the Internet, in the form of a character who has the title of Head Algorithm at a video-sharing site.

To most people, that term evokes the efforts to create self-aware beings capable of reasoning and explaining themselves, like Commander Data of Star Trek or HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

You give it a pile of data — posts that Facebook users have engaged with, comments that human reviewers have classified as toxic or benign, messages tagged as spam or not spam, and so on.

We trained an algorithm on a set of texts that were tagged as news articles, editorials, fiction, and so on, and it masticated their words and punctuation until it was pretty good at telling them apart — for instance, it figured out for itself that when a text contained an exclamation point or a question mark, it was more likely to be an editorial than news story.

The University of Toronto computer scientist Brian Cantwell Smith makes this point very crisply in a forthcoming book called, The Promise of Artificial Intelligence, arguing the systems have no concept of spam or porn or extremism or even of a game — rather, those are just elements of the narratives we tell about them.

If you train a credit rating algorithm on historical lending data that's infected with racial or gender bias, the algorithm is going to inherit that bias, and it won't be easy to tell.

You think of the porn filters that block flesh-colored pictures of pigs and puddings, or those notorious image recognition algorithms that were identifying black faces as gorillas.

But algorithms got harder to ignore when they started taking over tasks that used to require human judgment - deciding which criminal defendants get bail, winnowing job applications, prioritizing stories in a news feed.

Disney actually personified the algorithm literally in their 2018 animated movie, 'Ralph Breaks The Internet,' in the form of a character who has the title of head algorithm at a video-sharing site.

To most people, that term evokes the efforts to create self-aware beings capable of reasoning and explaining themselves, like Commander Data of 'Star Trek' or HAL in '2001.'

You give it a pile of data, posts that Facebook users have engaged with, comments that human reviewers have classified as toxic or benign, messages tagged as spam or not spam and so on.

If you train a credit rating algorithm on historical lending data that's infected with racial or gender bias, the algorithm's going to inherit that bias, and it won't be easy to tell.

You think of the porn filters that block flesh-colored pictures of pigs and puddings or those notorious image-recognition algorithms that were identifying black faces as gorillas.

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