Will AI and machine learning leave us without jobs or allow us to perform our functions better? Some theorists believe the former, that technology will take over, and make our jobs obsolete. Stern Speakers represents some of the most notable scholars and practitioners that believe in getting ahead of technology to design it properly from the beginning.
How do business leaders make sense of these trends and what to do about them? For a brief guide to the leading authorities who can help your organization develop strategies that capitalize on the opportunities of the future of work, while anticipating the challenges, read more.
Innovative Opportunities in the Rise of the Machines
MIT’s Thomas Malone believes interactions between humans and computers are increasing the capabilities of both, creating a new form of collective intelligence which he calls “Superminds.” He helps organizations optimize the benefits of cooperation between humans and technology. Erik Brynjolfsson, best-selling co-author of “Machine, Platform, Crowd” and director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, argues that machine learning is allowing AI to take on more knowledge and functions independently of human programming. This does not mean, however, that humans will be displaced. Rather, Brynjolfsson contends that humans need to develop new skills that complement those of AI, and businesses and policymakers must develop better frameworks for encouraging people to adopt those skills.
In a similar vein, AI expert Iyad Rahwan focuses on mapping existing skills “clusters” to show organizations which ones are most and least likely to be automated. In doing so, Rahwan emphasizes that it is not jobs that will disappear but individual skills for completing certain tasks, and we must update our jobs accordingly to retain our value. Jason Pontin, innovation and technology expert and former editor of the MIT Technology Review, takes a more industry-specific approach, showing specific organizations how AI will impact their own strategies and outlooks for employment in the field.
Affectiva CEO Dr. Rana el Kaliouby and Zyrobotics CTO Dr. Ayanna Howard are pioneering AI innovations in health care and education. El Kaliouby developed “emotion AI,” which takes the technology beyond repetitive tasks to enable it to recognize voices and facial expressions. Her presentations reveal eight major ways emotion AI will transform the future of work, including the way we trust machines even when we aren’t certain they’re making good decisions. Dr. Howard, an award-winning roboticist, is also at the cutting edge of programming machines to behave more like humans. She argues that more human-like robots will enable us to substitute them for caregivers in essential roles that will otherwise go unfilled, and that we can work constructively with them rather than see them as a threat.
Digital Platforms and the “Gig” Economy
It is not just that our jobs are being changed; we are also increasingly working outside of traditional organizations via digital platforms like Uber and Upwork. Harvard Professor and internet pioneer Jonathan Zittrain, a leading expert on the ethical and legal aspects of emerging technology on society, discusses the implications of both AI and digital platforms on the future of work. Zittrain takes an optimistic view of platforms allowing individuals to be self-sufficient entrepreneurs, but also outlines the new frameworks that will have to be created to protect workers while maximizing their productive potential. Arun Sundararajan, who literally wrote the book on what he called the “sharing economy,” has concluded that company-based “managerial capitalism” is coming to an end, and that we are on the cusp of a new era of “crowd-based capitalism.” This will afford workers more freedom and flexibility, but requires policymakers to ensure the economy benefits from entrepreneurial vigor without sacrificing basic social protections.
Training Employees for the New Era
Businesses, policymakers and educators will have to address how schooling and workplace training will have to be updated for a new age of AI and digital technology. Dr. Michelle Weise of the Strada Institute for the Future of Work argues that technology itself is the solution to a world where more jobs are performed via AI or digital platforms. Online-based courses are replacing expensive higher education, allowing people to continuously retrain for the ever-changing job market.
Award-winning author and workplace development expert Tammy Erickson, meanwhile, advises companies on how they can successfully navigate the HR challenges of the 21st century. She speaks and advises on such issues as managing intergenerational workplaces and how to create an environment where employees develop innovative ideas. Erickson touches on what will be the fundamental challenge for individuals and organizations in the future: mastering (and promoting) those skills that cannot be easily automated or outsourced.
Is your organization prepared for the future of work? Make sure you are on the beneficial side of change. The speaking and advisory services of these esteemed authorities could be the advantage you need to ensure it.