• Thu. Jun 1st, 2023

How AI and other technologies are presently disrupting the workplace


May 27, 2023

Artificial intelligence (AI) is regularly cast as wreaking havoc and destroying jobs in reports about its expanding use by organizations. The existing coverage of telecom group BT’s plans to reduce down its quantity of employees is a case in point.

Nonetheless, when it is AI that is featured in the headlines, in this case, it is the shift from copper to optical fibre in the BT network that is the correct story.

When I was a boy, workers for the GPO – the Simple Post Workplace, the forerunner of BT – have been regular shoppers in my parents’ newsagent’s shop. They drove about in lorries erecting telegraph poles and repairing overhead telephone wires. Situations – and technologies – have changed, and continue to alter. BT’s transition from copper to optical fibre is merely the newest technologies transition.

This move by BT has necessary a large, a single specific-off function, which is coming to an finish, along with the jobs it made. And merely for the reason that fibre is a lot much more respected, there is substantially significantly less will have to have for a workforce of fitters in the field carrying out repairs.

This will alter the shape of BT as an operation: rather than an organisation of folks now in vans, it will have a network designers and managers who, for the most aspect, can monitor gear in the field remotely.

This is taking spot in other sectors also. Rolls-Royce aircraft engines are monitored as they are flying from an workplace in Derby. The photocopier in your workplace – if you nonetheless have an workplace (or a photocopier for that matter) – is possibly also monitored automatically by the supplier, with out the have to have of a technician going anyplace close to it.

AI ‘co-piloting’

AI could possibly contribute in aspect to the reduction in purchaser service jobs at BT by obtaining capable to speed up and help relatively routine tasks, such as screening calls or writing letters and emails to shoppers.

But this typically does not take the sort of a “robot” replacing a worker by taking much more than their entire job. It is a lot much more a case of AI technologies assisting human workers – acting as “co-pilots” – to be a lot much more productive in precise tasks.

This at some point reduces the basic quantity of personnel necessary. And, in the BT story, AI is only described in respect of a single specific-fifth of the jobs to be decrease, and even then, only as a single specific of the causes.

In my private study amongst law and accountancy firms with my colleagues James Faulconbridge and Atif Sarwar, AI-mainly primarily based technologies extremely seldom merely do points quicker and significantly less high-priced. Rather, they automate some tasks, but their analytical capabilities also present further insights into clients’ concerns.

Superior recommendations, new jobs

A law firm could possibly use a document overview package to search for difficulty clauses in hundreds of leases, for instance. It can then use the basic pattern of what is found as a basis for advising a client on managing their property portfolio far much better.

Similarly, in auditing, AI technologies can automate the job of acquiring suspicious transactions amongst thousands of entries, but also make insights that allow the client to totally grasp their dangers and method their cashflow a lot much more adequately.

In these approaches, the technologies can let law and accountancy firms to offer you you additional advisory options to clientele. AI adoption also creates new varieties
of jobs, such as engineers and details scientists in law firms.

Present advances in generative AI – which produce text or photographs in response to prompts, with ChatGPT and GPT 4 obtaining the most apparent examples – do present new possibilities and concerns. There is no doubt that they exhibit some potentially new capabilities and even, for some, “sparks” of artificial fundamental intelligence.

These technologies will influence function and alter some sorts of jobs. But they are not the crucial culprit in the BT case, and researchers and journalists alike will have to have to hold a cool head and examine the proof in every single case.

We actually should really strive to act responsibly when innovating with AI, as with any other technologies. But also: beware the knee-jerk, sensationalist response to the use of AI in function.