The workplace has nothing to fear from AI: survey

Image credit: John Williams RUS

AI will diversify human thinking, not replace it, according to new study from Tata Communications that aims to debunk myths about AI in the workplace.

In the hopes of shifting the conversation from dystopian fears toward human collaboration and cognitive diversity, the study – which is based on input from 120 global business leaders – envisions a positive impact of AI in the future workplace and identifies opportunities for businesses and employees.

Key findings of the study include:

  • 90% of leaders agree that cognitive diversity is important for management
  • 75% of respondents expect AI to create new roles for their employees
  • 93% believe that AI will enhance decision making.

 Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley professor and co-author of the report, notes that “the prevalent narrative around AI has focussed on a ‘singularity’ – a hypothetical time when artificial intelligence will surpass humans. But there is a growing interest in ‘multiplicity’, where AI helps groups of machines and humans collaborate to innovate and solve problems.”

Vinod Kumar, report co-author and CEO/MD at Tata Communications, added: “What is transformational about multiplicity is that it can enhance cognitive diversity, combining categories of intelligence in new ways to benefit all workers and businesses.”

In addition to the survey of 120 leading executives, the study included 15 in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs, executives and thought-leaders, as well as discussion forums that brought together internationally renowned experts from the fields of AI, machine learning, design, art, government, politics, ethics, entrepreneurship, behavioural economics, journalism, engineering and human resources.

Other key findings:

AI can enhance cognitive diversity within groups: there is growing consensus that diversity of thinking on projects yields better outputs. Business executives believe that AI could help create and maintain working groups that optimise this cognitive diversity. 

AI can help workers become more agile, curious, and nimble: almost all (93%) business leaders agree that AI can enhance employee engagement. AI has potential to assess each employee’s skills and innovation priorities, and suggest activities to spark creative thinking throughout the organisational hierarchy. This can democratise the creative process and increase engagement of all workers.

AI can enhance human collaboration: business is increasingly multicultural, but a lack of understanding of languages and cultures can be a barrier to collaboration. Most (80%) of leaders surveyed agree that AI could facilitate team composition, organisation and communications, especially for global teams.

The structure of work will change and require greater agility and flexibility: 75% of executives envision AI creating new roles in their businesses.  AI has potential to free employees from tedious repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus much more on communication and innovation. Work will move from being task-based to strategic, enabling workers to enhance their curiosity and creative thinking.

You can download the full study here.

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