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Report claims AI and humans can coexist in new 'hyperproductive' organisations

Tamlin Magee | Feb. 1, 2017
AI will bring in a raft of new roles that will reward more uniquely human capabilities like imagination and creativity

AI and humans
Credit: Thinkstock via CIO

A joint report by Goldsmiths University and 'cognitive science' service provider IPSoft paints a rosy picture for the role artificial intelligence will play in boosting productivity within the workforce.

According to the report, titled FuturaCorp: Artificial Intelligence & the Freedom to Be Human, developments in AI will drastically alter the way in which organisations operate, and bring in a raft of new roles that will reward more uniquely human capabilities like imagination and creativity.

Dr Chris Brauer of Goldsmiths was the lead on the research. Speaking with Computerworld UK, Brauer says that he went into the project expecting to unearth which jobs will be left at all from the coming boom in AI - but was surprised to find that the report suggested a more collaborative approach between humans and machines.

"One of the main findings is an alternative to the dystopian views that have been projected out about job losses, and automation entering the workplace to replace human beings," Brauer says. "This study found that the collaboration between smart machines has the potential to be more productive - a hyperproductive environment - where you're maximising for the human and for the machine."

In short, Brauer believes that tasks suited to machines - monotonous and repetitious - should be outsourced to machines. But humans will, he thinks, be freed up to take on roles where humans are current irreplaceable, for example, in understanding design, empathy, creativity and strategy.

The roles are divided into three categories: cross-functional skills, probabilistic skills, and deterministic skills. Cross-functional skills include social intelligence, cultural knowledge, and adaptive thinking. Probabilistic skills are more suited to AI acting as a complementary technology to human beings, and could include new roles such as "AI interaction designers" - for instance, feeding the human understanding of design language into a machine.

"We envision a world where organisations begin to adapt and assign resources to machines doing what machines do well, and humans doing what humans do well," Brauer says. "The part that has been missing is we've been trying to get humans to do things that machines do well, and then we're surprised that those roles are eventually going to be taken over by the machines. In many ways, they were so deterministic and robotic and appropriate for the machines in the first place."

One such example is the 'technology broker'.

"A technology broker was another one that came up," says Dr Brauer. "Being able to broker between the needs of the sales team and the actual capabilities of the technologies. Bringing in advice, negotiating support in divisions across companies and so on, to allocate resources to trending things."


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