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Optimum Talks Blog

Are the Robots Really Coming for Our Jobs?

by Kim Hirsch
May 14, 2018

Artificial Intelligence or AI has become a daily headline on our news and social feeds. Whether it is self-driving cars, a robot greeting you at a store, or a computer that can run your entire accounting function, AI is penetrating social and economic spheres, resulting in a massive transformation.

As with any new technological advancement, we can expect AI to cause disruption, but to what extent is still to be determined. However, what we do know is that it is already shifting how we understand, utilize, and develop talent by making some skills obsolete while demanding a significant increase in others – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is a great deal of fear associated with AI, mostly because it is this unknown super power that we don’t yet understand. And while we can’t predict the future, we can control our attitudes and behaviours towards it. So instead of imagining all the frightening things AI may do to our economy and jobs, I challenge you to reframe your thinking to try and imagine all the positive opportunities it may bring. Here are a few examples:

Agile teams and role flexibility

The new reality brought on by AI will mean that certain skills such as digital communications, big data, robotics engineering, and soft skills such as EQ and coaching, will be highly sought after. A great deal of individuals in these fields already work on demand, so organizations will have to rethink their org structures and the relationship between internal and external talent, giving everyone the opportunity for more flexible work arrangements.

Greater focus on the human element

AI can help supplement and enhance current functions by completing the monotonous tasks, allowing people to focus on more meaningful interactions that require emotional intelligence. While online chat bots and algorithm sorting programs are a reality that have taken away from some roles and responsibilities, they also provide an opportunity for organizations and individuals to spend time innovating and offering new, more tailored forms of customer service and products.

New learning opportunities

With any new advancement comes learning opportunities and some forward-thinking companies are starting to invest in AI related training and development for their employees. Strong training programs are associated with high employee engagement and job satisfaction, so as more companies realize that these new technologies require frequent and in-depth training, the learning opportunities will become more strategic, robust and rewarding.

Job creation

One of the most exciting aspects about AI is that we do not yet know its potential or full impact. This means that there are going to be jobs created that do not exist today — ones that we cannot even conceive of. So, while we will inevitably see many jobs disappear, the potential for new ones is immense.

The advancement of AI is not going to slow down anytime soon. To realize some of the benefits AI may bring, organizations should start by assessing their current talent and the gaps they are facing. This means identifying and investing in high-potential and resilient leaders, creating strategic training plans, while also considering the roles that may disappear and how to reskill and utilize those employees in other ways.

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