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Industry experts speak out as Bank of England chief economist warns on AI

  • By Neil Martin
  • News
Businesses not ready for AI

The chief economist at the Bank of England has warned that artificial intelligence could make many jobs obsolete.

Andy Haldane commented that Fourth Industrial Revolution could have a greater impact on jobs and living than thought possible.

Sharon Einstein, VP EMEA Robotic Automation and AI, NICE, said: “It’s often too easy to focus on the threat to human jobs when it comes to artificial intelligence, but the reality is that AI is not a threat to human beings at work – it enhances their experience and positions them for greater influence in the workplace.

“With the average employee spending an average of 80 percent of their day on mundane, routine work that don’t necessarily need human input, a significant amount of potential often goes unrealised. By integrating AI into daily routines, employees are free from monotonous tasks to undertake more exciting and rewarding tasks that add real value. For many companies, this means improved employee satisfaction, with employees feeling that their time is better valued. Research also shows that happiness makes people more productive at work. Companies get happier employees and better results. Everybody wins.”

John Gikopoulos, Global Head of AI & Automation and Partner, Infosys Consulting: “The arrival of AI certainly isn’t doom and gloom – we’re already seeing that humans’ job roles are changing. Jobs are becoming less ‘functionary’ and more ‘visionary’: while automation and AI will perform tasks of ever-increasing complexity, humans will be needed to guide them, match capabilities to business strategy, and provide the vision for the future.

“Many organisations are already delegating repetitive tasks to machines, while introducing new roles for humans that focus on creativity and communication. The next step is using AI as an opportunity for humans to move up the value chain and be rid of mundane jobs altogether.

“To combat the threat posed by automation, business leaders need to do more. It’s not enough just to understand the different technologies on the table; they should also understand what tech can do for their business, their customers, and crucially, their employees. That requires a shift in culture as much as it does the acquisition of new skills.

“With the threat of AI ever-present, some question if we’ve got the skills conversation wrong. We are often fixated on core technical skills; from coding to advanced topics like data science and machine learning. But have we lost sight of the softer skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and applying insight to business strategy? AI can find facts and can even recommend prescriptive or proscriptive actions – but what it can’t do is formulate a watertight strategy based on the insights it discovers.

“We want business leaders to foster an atmosphere of experimentation and innovation, and constantly question how they can deploy smart technologies such as AI to solve today’s challenges. One thing is clear: the key to working alongside AI is doing so for the greater good of everyone – without threatening livelihoods.”

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