Artificial intelligence will determine where, when and how organisations access talent in the future, but it will be up to human teams to exploit its potential.
This was the conclusion of Dr Ayesha Khanna, co-founder of consulting business ADDO AI, speaking at this year’s CIPD Festival of Work this week.
Dr Khanna painted a picture of new, smart cities that would be crisis-resilient to future pandemics, climate change and bio terrorism; small, hyper-local locations where workers could access everything they need within 15 minutes from their home. “Existing cities are being retrofitted and there’s an acknowledgement that the environment where we work affects how well we work,” she said.
“The line between offline and online working will become more blurred, and I don’t just mean more Zoom calls,” she added.
AI and human potential
Increasingly, organisations will operate in immersive, blended environments such as the metaverse where they can “land in their global office by putting on a pair of goggles”, with sophisticated avatars reflecting our non-verbal cues and even shaking hands on a deal.
AI will be at its most effective where it can support humans to innovate faster, said Dr Khanna.
She cited Chilean food company NotCo, which produces plant-based alternatives to products such as mayonnaise. The company uses a complex algorithm to help it come up with recipes for vegan versions of popular products and has been able to get them to market months faster than through human trial and error alone.
“As an assistant, AI can catalyse our ideas and help us do things faster,” she said. “It can’t come up with the idea or bring it to market, but it can crunch numbers quickly and magnify our own potential,” she said.
Dr Khanna acknowledged that using AI carried some risks. “We need governance over data and who owns it and we need companies to act responsibly,” she said.
She highlighted 2018 figures from research company Gartner suggesting that within a few years, our devices would know more about our emotional state than our families thanks to AI that analysed our behaviours and reactions. There is also wearable technology that can determine if someone is angry based on a range of physical indicators.
“This could be exploited by managers, so it’s critical to consider how data is used and if everyone is comfortable with it,” she added.
Organisations’ values and culture should shape how they use emerging tools such as AI to support human innovation fairly rather than replace it.
She concluded: “Only humans can think about culture and values in a company. We need a diverse team standing on the shoulders of AI. How can we benefit customers if we’re not using it ethically?”