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Is technology the friend or foe of modern workplaces?

Artificial intelligence is one of the most promising technologies and I believe that it will change the world. In fact, it is changing it right now. But is it really as great as it sounds, or should we feel warned by all the sci-fi movies where intelligent robots conquer the world?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is gradually creeping into our personal and professional lives without us even noticing it. We use voice assistants and smart devices to make our lives more effortless. But what about work? Will robots replace humans and make them unemployable?

How are companies using AI?

Modern workplaces have been using AI for some time now. Of course, the AI we are talking about doesn’t resemble the intelligent, omniscient, human-like robots we know from sci-fi films. It is, however, artificial and somewhat intelligent – hence the name.

Businesses are introducing AI in the form of machines and pieces of software that can – to some extent – mimic human behavior and perform tasks. What do these machines and programs do in current workplaces?

  • They translate messages written in foreign languages, helping companies communicate quickly and efficiently.
  • They detect spam and malicious messages.
  • They help with common questions and problems through various chatbots.
  • They perform mundane and repetitive tasks that can be automated.

Fear of AI in workplaces

When asked about AI and its benefits in workplaces, many people feel a bit apprehensive about the scenario where technology replaces humans in their jobs. Machines don’t get sick, they can work without breaks, and they cannot burn out or feel unmotivated, so the fears are legitimate. No one would like to become unemployed because robots have taken their place.

This fear of technology taking over is justified but unrealistic. AI is already helping workplaces and is not there to compete with humans. In fact, it is there to take care of the most mundane tasks so that workers can focus on more creative assignments.

Modern technology can increase companies’ productivity while allowing employees to work in a less boring way and have a better work-life balance. However, this doesn’t mean that AI doesn’t have its cons and risks, which may not be as exciting as in sci-fi movies, but they are real.

Risks of technology and AI in workplaces

1.    Manpower reductions

We mentioned above that the introduction of AI into workplaces does not mean replacing humans with robots, but – unfortunately – some kind of downsizing is inevitable. Machines and programs that are capable of performing mundane and boring tasks would replace the people who currently do them.

Improving workplaces with AI means that people can perform more creative tasks, often requiring education and training. Low-level workers that cannot afford to learn and upgrade their qualifications would simply lose their jobs, as robots are cheaper and more efficient than they are. This, in consequence, would create more poverty and social inequality.

2.    Privacy and security concerns

While technology is very helpful, it can also be used against people and companies. This is already a problem, and we all know that AI and technology still have the potential to grow, so that it could be worse.

Companies are already collecting people’s personal data for their profits. For example, some people warn against using smart devices and voice assistants, which allegedly listen to people’s conversations and do who-knows-what with the collected information.

You don’t have to look far to find other ways that companies gather people’s data. The internet is full of intrusive, personalized ads. They operate on users’ personal information, such as their search history or browsing habits. Fortunately, you can use a tracker blocker and a VPN to avoid them, but – as you can see – the privacy concerns are justified.

3.    Unfairness, bias, and discrimination

Experts often say that a judgment made by a machine is fairer than the one made by a person because a machine cannot be biased. This would be true if not for the possibility of under-representation in data being used to train the machine.

AI is being improved and trained right now – for example, the introduction of self-driving cars is getting closer every year. But the machines are trained by people, and people can be biased. This means that, in the future, AI’s decision-making abilities could be influenced by the training process and incomplete or false data, which would lead to inequality.

AI in workplaces – should people be worried?

Many of the problems that arise with the introduction of AI into workplaces can be solved by implementing responsible and ethical development. Technology is supposed to help society – not crush it. People need not panic at the thought of robots taking their jobs. However, the rise of AI will certainly bring new challenges.

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