Movies like Jurassic Park feel far removed from our everyday reality. The credits roll, we let out a sigh of relief, and immediately find gratitude in the fact that the scientific community hasn’t created a world where extinct killing machines walk amongst us.
But what if I told you that recent advancements in the data analytics space may ultimately jeopardize the value of mankind, one algorithm at a time?
AI/ML has allowed us to optimize operations, streamline productivity and maximize business results. This may look like a report or dashboard with actionable insights, or the robotic execution of redundant tasks that would otherwise cost companies countless man-hours and dollars to accomplish.
While this has all been very helpful in the short term, we must also consider the long-term consequences of replacing humans with robots. There is reason to be skeptical that our quest for innovation, may ultimately forfeit what really matters.
The 1990 Harvard Business article, “Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate,” written by Michael Hammer discusses how technology can be used to justify what he refers to as a “business-process reengineering.” Popular in the 1990s, this management approach believes that information technology shouldn’t solely be added to existing processes, but instead, be used to redesign the process in its entirety. This methodology has been used to justify laying off employees, especially middle- managers, for decades.
Not much has changed. Almost 30 years later, a similar way of thinking has materialized. Artificial intelligence — while it brings the promise of productivity and improved business results — may at one point become responsible for what could be the largest wave of job eliminations of our time.
We’ve already begun to see it in the workplace. McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), for example, found that “about 60% of the estimated productivity potential comes from firms taking measures to cut labor and other input costs, for example by increasing automation.”
The idea that a tool architected to improve the lives of our employees, may at one point cost them their jobs, is an attack on humanity.
It’s easy to understand why the untapped potential of AI gets people excited.
COVID-19 is a good example of when technology can help bridge the productivity gap during a global event. While it can be helpful in streamlining tasks that would otherwise drain organizations of their limited manpower and resources, it’s dangerous to insinuate that AI/ML can fully replace the intrinsic value of human beings. More than ever, we should exercise a certain amount of caution when entertaining the idea of permanent, automated business solutions.
Technology should be used to enhance — not replace — the offerings of human input. Many employees, for example, have countless years of invaluable experience that could be used to improve the efficiency and impact of AI.
AI/ML — in and of itself — is not substantial enough to stand alone. It takes an analytical mind to fully maximize the insights and learnings offered by AI, and other technology. Collaboration is key to improved outcomes.
Much like a hammer or a screwdriver, we should treat AI/ML like a tool instead of an all-purpose solution. When used in conjunction with the hearts and minds of mankind, this technology will help preserve the integrity of humanity while also giving way to future advancement.
Let’s build the future we want to see, together, one technological milestone at a time.
The Systech Solutions, Inc. Blog Series is designed to showcase ongoing innovations in the data and analytics space. If you have any suggestions for an upcoming article, or would like to volunteer to be interviewed, please contact Olivia Klayman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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