01 Nov Taking On Future Disruptions: Education and Investment
The developmental path of AI leads to an almost surefire guarantee that it will be a permanent resident in tomorrow’s workplace. Technology has advanced in previous industrial revolutions in a way that has instilled fear in the hearts of human workers, however, machines have never completely made the role of humans redundant, and there’s much reason to believe human workers will survive and continue to thrive past the 4th Industrial Revolution and the arrival of AI. In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, Paul Daugherty and James Wilson of Accenture argue that there is space for people in an AI workplace if we humans develop and deploy AI responsibly, which will result in the technology taking us to new levels of productivity. Their view is that companies that adopt technologies to replace people will eventually stall out. Leaders should switch from a myopic focus of ‘How can I replace people with machines’ to a view of ‘How can I make my people more effective and productive.’
However, leaders and workers still need to be vigilant of disruptions, and constantly upskill and train in order to stay ahead of the curve.
Employee fear of AI stems from the lack of transparency by leaders with regards to how they intend on using this technology, which causes widespread fear among employees of being replaced. In order to facilitate the implementation of AI, leaders must be transparent in their intentions in using AI and democratize AI by lowering barriers to its usage and training employees so AI usage will come as naturally as using Excel. They also need to become more agile and must accept a future of AI being a permanent resident in the workplace, and incorporate digital literacy and use of AI into their arsenal of skills. In the words of Prof. Noda of Shizenkan University, ‘Planning, budgeting, and organizing can be done by AI, but establishing a vision, aligning, and motivating people requires people.’
Leaders with vision are those who will survive the upcoming digital revolution and will use AI technology to enhance their employees’ experience in order to optimize productivity and wellbeing in the workplace. Employers need to find ways to lower barriers to AI usage for workers and offer training to their people. Students are already seeking courses on digital literacy and succeeding in a future with AI, so employers need to take the initiative and offer such training for their current workers from all levels of education, and educate them on disruption, coding, data analysis, transformation, and digital leadership.