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Level Blog

2 min read

Will Cognitive Intelligence replace my employees?

Oct 25, 2018 11:44:00 PM

There has been significant debate on this topic. There is no doubt that Cognitive Intelligence (CI) will change the type of work that people do, but no evidence to say that it will replace them.

AI is at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and will without a doubt become one of a number of technologies that transform the workplace, so now is the time to embrace it rather than avoid it.

Let go of the fear factor

A recent Harvard Business Review CI research project found that, for most businesses, the primary objective of implementing CI is not to replace headcount, and that very few projects have led to reduced headcounts because many of the tasks in question had already been shifted to outsourced centres.

A Forbes article, which illustrates experiences of investing in AI, concludes that “the value, power and efficiency of AI does not arise from its ability to replace human beings. In fact, AI does just the opposite. Both automation and AI underscore how central and critical human insight and expertise are to success.” 

Boston Consulting Group research found that 70% of people working with CI are not fearful that they will lose their jobs and there is no expectation of a reduction of jobs within 5 years. In fact, a similar percentage of people were hopeful that AI will take over some of their more boring and unpleasant tasks. The goal is to blend CI and people to increase productivity, improve customer and employee experience.

Solving The productivity problem, not reducing employees

Despite recent technology developments, publicly stated UK productivity levels are no higher than they were before the financial crisis began in 2008. In fact, the Office for National Statistics states that UK productivity levels have fallen to below those recorded in 2007. Some of the reasons cited for a lack of growth in productivity include:

  • A lack of innovation and resistance to change
  • Unengaged employees
  • Critical skills shortages
  • Bureaucracy and complex systems

Add to this that 38% of employees say they have too much administration work, and 24% say the technology they are using is too slow. Despite this knowledge, recent research suggests that up to 42% of companies have done nothing at all to improve productivity since 2015. So how do we move forward? 

CI solutions for today

To improve productivity, the most important thing to think about is how to best take the robot out of your humans to optimise their time, happiness and overall value to your organisation.

Cognitive Intelligence (CI) mimics the functions of the human brain by bringing together an organisation’s data, business processes and employee knowledge. According to Deloitte, CI can perform or augment tasks, better inform decisions and accomplish objectives that have traditionally required human intelligence.

There is no doubt that CI will change the type of work that people do, but there is no evidence to show it will replace them to the degree people most fear. Looking back in history as a reference point, the march of computer technologies has been advancing since the 1950s and has certainly not replaced the human workforce en masse, but it has fundamentally changed the way we work and the type of work we do.

AI is at the heart of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and will certainly transform the workplace. However, rather than replacing employees, it is intended to enhance the human work experience and remove the drudgery, so you can do more with the same resources. There is still a long way to go before our human brains are replaced by the machines depicted in science fiction movies. 

Jane Allan
Written by Jane Allan