We’re hearing more and more with each passing month about “smart” technologies and how they’re going to impact our daily lives. And the term no longer refers just to devices that we might carry with us such as phones and tablets. The idea of consumer smart tech is seeping into other aspects of our lives, and can’t seem to develop quickly enough. Homes, for instance, are now responsible for incredible smart devices that make home ownership more comfortable, more affordable, and even more environmentally responsible. But smart technology isn’t just about comfort and affordability – it’s also about efficiency, which means big changes for the workplace.
As technologies of all different sorts grow more intelligent and better able to assist us, we need to ask ourselves how business environments are going to need to adjust. These are just a few reasons it’s time to ask that question now.
AI Is Getting Better
You may not always realize it with your everyday smart devices (though they do demonstrate the trend), but AI is getting better. No, this isn’t some science fiction-like warning that smart systems are learning or spiraling out of control. We’re just getting better at designing them. If you pay attention, you’ll begin to notice this in tech-related headlines fairly regularly. One of the most alarming stories, for instance, came out earlier this year with regard to a sort of simulated poker tournament. Previously, AI has struggled at times to win complex games of skill against expert humans. But early in 2017, professional poker players were dominated by artificial intelligence in a sort of exhibition. This doesn’t directly impact business environments of course, but it’s one of the better demonstrations of the progression of AI.
Better AI Means Changing Employee Roles
This is the point many of us have been hearing about for a few years now, and it’s one that’s getting more urgent. The unfortunate but simple fact is that AI leads to the automation of manufacturing and other business practices, which in turn leads to many jobs (or at least aspects of jobs) becoming obsolete. You may have even noticed throughout the 2016 political campaigns that there were debates about what role automation was playing in people in many industries losing their jobs or seeing dissipated roles. If it’s true that AI is getting better (and it is), then it follows that people need to start preparing for these kinds of changes.
Transitions Need To Be Designed
If we know that AI is improving and that it will lead to changing employment situations, then we know that businesses have to figure out how those situations are going to change. It’s one thing to simply cast employees off, and this is something a lot of companies have been forced to do. Ideally, however, employees should consider developing a workplace transition policy that can help everyone involved as much as possible. Sometimes this will simply mean having a detailed plan for retirement and severance situations; sometimes it will mean training practices that allow employees whose roles have become obsolete adapt and perform new tasks for the company. The specifics here vary greatly and depend on what sort of business is at hand, how many employees it has, and whether AI is a factor. But it’s certainly something that requires advance preparation.
These are just general things to keep in mind regarding the smart tech and AI subjects. Workplaces are going to change, and it’s for these reasons that we can’t simply wait for them to do so. Preparation is necessary for the era of business AI.