How AI is Augmenting our Workforce
First off, let’s get one thing out of the way…it’s my birthday today.
Happy Birthday to me!
The one thing I really wanted this birthday was for the Kangaroos to make the grand final. And that didn’t happen. In fact, that hasn’t happened since I was a teenager.
Maybe next year then.
The good news also is my birthday falls on what is now a public holiday in Victoria. That’d be great, except I’m in the UK and it’s not a public holiday. And most people don’t even know what AFL is, and if they did they’d be pretty astounded there’s a designated public holiday the day before it.
It’s a bit silly really. A bit silly to have a public holiday for a football game, which is the next day anyway. As silly as a public holiday for a horse race. Don’t get me wrong, you take those days and enjoy them.
But really, it’s quite the productivity killer.
Will a four-day work week make people lazier?
That idea of productivity has been running through my mind recently. You see over here in the UK the Labour Party has come up with the idea they want a policy of turning to a four-day working week. Cutting the working week down to something like 32.5 hours.
I used to be in favour of a four-day week, but there’s a few caveats to that. You see if all you do is cut a day off the week then quite quickly Thursday becomes the new Friday. People start to wind down for the ‘new weekend’ on a Thursday afternoon and there’s a productivity drop off just a day earlier.
A four-day week won’t make people work more efficiently and increase productivity, it’ll likely just make people lazier. Now a four-day week would work if there were the same hours allocated to it.
For example, let’s say the average working week is a 40-hour week. That’s an eight-hour day. If we shift to a four-day week then the hours should remain the same, but just 10-hour days, Monday to Thursday.
That way you don’t kill productivity, you just readjust the work/life balance a smidge. Or maybe people want to do six day weeks, but just 6.66 hour days. Have at it I say. What’s needed though is a real look at how we work and the way in which we work.
Fortunately, the way in which we work is always changing. And over the next decade or two it’s going to radically change.
AI is revolutionising our workforce
You see we’re entering a time where robotics and automation are going to integrate and augment what we do in a whole new way. Add to the mix we’ll have functional quantum computing, and soon enough a whole raft of industry will be rethinking what they do and how they do it.
For example, we now implement artificial intelligence (AI) into industries such as diagnostics. And we know these deep learning machines can analyse imagery to find illness and disease more efficiently and accurately than a doctor can.
That means the role in which a diagnostics doctor works is changing. But this isn’t to say that automation, robotics and AI will replace doctors, but they’ll augment their jobs. After all, while we might trust machines to analyse our tests, we’ll still want to talk to a real person about treatment plans and what it all means.
And that’s something that I took away from a wonderful presentation at the Sibos banking and finance conference this week. The way AI and deep learning is augmenting our workforce, we shouldn’t be worried about what’s coming, we should be embracing it instead.
The idea is something I’ve been developing for a while, augmented intelligence. Or another term I use is ‘Transhumanism’, where we use machines and technology to exceed the limitations of human biology.
We’re going to see this in the medical world, we’re going to see it in the legal industry and we’re particularly going to see it in banking and finance. How we interact with financial institutions is already changing. Most of the time when you’re online with your bank there’s a good chance you’re talking to a ‘bot’ or AI. These are automated systems to help guide you through to more rudimentary problems.
The capacity of those machines to learn more and to help with more sophisticated problems will increase. And a lot of the banking world will change because of advanced deep learning making decisions on everything from lending, to accounts, payments and remittance.
This is going to displace a large proportion of workers in the world’s biggest industry. But it won’t create massive queues at the job centre. It will open new jobs that didn’t once exist. These jobs will be more ‘EQ’ focused in terms of helping people to understand better their interactions with banking and finance rather than helping people ‘crunch the numbers’.
Robotics and smart systems will be the new IQ industry and as humans we’ll never be able to compete with their speed or accuracy. So why bother trying. Instead do better at what the AI can’t, emotional connections, conceptual learning, creative applications and relationship building.
Change is here, it’s coming, and as a society we need to recognise the inevitability of it all. But the key is to embrace it, innovate and develop with it. And not push against it, because resistance has never worked. And if we can use it in a way that makes us all work better together, then that’s a future worth looking forward to.
Editor, Money Morning
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