New technologies like automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are rapidly transforming the way organizations operate. In a recent interview with Wharton professor Lynn Wu, we explore the impact of AI and robotics on physical labor, productivity, and human resources.
Traditionally, AI has been associated with generative AI, which includes technologies like ChatGPT and Bard. However, Wu explains that AI has a much broader history and context. The field of AI dates back to the 1950s and has evolved significantly over time. From expert systems in the ’70s and ’80s to neural networks and deep learning in the ’90s and 2010s, AI has continuously advanced thanks to the explosion of data and computational resources.
While generative AI has grabbed headlines recently, it is just one application of AI within a wide range of areas. Wu emphasizes that AI techniques, like neural networks, are capable of handling complex relationships and non-linear models that cannot be captured by simple rules or linear regression.
Moving forward, the adoption of AI and automation in the workplace raises questions about job automation. Previous studies have suggested that between 40 to 70 percent of jobs could be automated. However, Wu cautions that assessing the specific jobs that can be automated is a complex task. Certain jobs, especially those that involve repetitive and routine tasks, are more susceptible to automation. On the other hand, jobs that require interpersonal skills, creativity, and critical thinking are less likely to be automated.
Additionally, there are factors that can prevent job automation from happening or limit its impact. These include regulatory barriers, ethical considerations, the need for human judgment in certain tasks, and the potential for job creation in new industries and roles that emerge alongside advanced technologies.
As we continue to embrace automation and AI, it is crucial to consider the potential benefits and challenges they present. While automation can improve efficiency and productivity, it is essential to ensure inclusive growth and provide opportunities for reskilling and upskilling for the workforce affected by these changes. Finding a balance between leveraging technology and preserving human-centric skills will be key to navigating the evolving landscape of business and technology.
What is AI?
AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and problem-solving.
What is automation?
Automation involves the use of technology and machines to perform tasks or processes without human intervention. It aims to streamline and optimize workflows, reduce human error, and increase efficiency.
Can all jobs be automated?
Not all jobs can be automated. While certain tasks and jobs that involve repetitive and routine activities are more susceptible to automation, jobs that require interpersonal skills, creativity, and critical thinking are less likely to be automated. Additionally, there are regulatory, ethical, and human judgment factors that can prevent job automation or limit its impact.
What are the challenges of adopting AI and automation?
The adoption of AI and automation presents challenges such as potential job displacement, the need for reskilling and upskilling, regulatory barriers, ethical considerations, and finding the right balance between technology and human-centric skills. It is crucial to address these challenges to ensure inclusive growth and a smooth transition to a technology-driven future.