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The Future of Work 2030: The Machine Thinks, the Human Steers

When it comes to the future of work, the Institute for the Future (IFTF) in Palo Alto, California is convinced: “There will be a new partnership between people and machines that increases productivity. Human intelligence cannot be replaced. On the contrary, the work of the future will require new skills from employees.

The potential for future collaboration between humans and artificial intelligence (AI), robots, mobile end devices for augmented reality and blockchain can already be seen in the existing basic technologies. For the IFTF, this collaboration at the workplace already begins with recruiting. They predict that the partnership of personnel with AI will allow more equitable selection processes to select candidates according to their skills and not according to gender, age or other biographical characteristics. The algorithms would also replace all too human prejudices in the composition of teams with a clear analysis of the machine, which puts together optimal teams from a variety of skills and personal characteristics. This leads to an increase in work productivity, a better working environment, and more intensive employee retention. As many as 67 percent of the managers surveyed by the IFTF can imagine using AI in the future to achieve more equal opportunities.

Enhanced skills through machines

If AI prevents hidden discrimination in personnel work, it will expand and supplement human skills in other contexts of work. For example, 70 percent of IFTF executives would like their employees to work with machines and robots to overcome their human limitations. At BMW’s mini-production facility in Oxford, for example, collaborative robots are already working together with people. Such CoBots are equipped with sensors so as not to injure their flesh and blood colleagues. However, colleague AI could also replace employees if they are not enabled to collaborate with AI. Especially for the use of AI for the analysis of large amounts of data, the employees also need the corresponding skills. In a 2019 study, Price Waterhouse Coopers asked 500 decision-makers which employee skills were relevant for AI use and to what extent. 81 percent felt that employees needed to understand the potential and limitations of AI. 80 percent each mentioned knowledge about secure and transparent AI as well as understanding and knowledge about data-driven business models. Few companies, however, have the correspondingly trained employees. For this reason, the introduction and successful use of AI will only succeed if companies simultaneously qualify their employees for the application. For the AI to be useful as a colleague in a team, it must be programmed with algorithms to suit the task and be equipped with the correctly formulated task to extract useful information from large amounts of data. This also makes it clear that human intelligence has to control what the AI then has to process.

Enhanced reality for more productivity in teams

This need for training will also be triggered by a third technology that has already made its breakthrough in the gaming sector. Augmented and mixed reality with data glasses or mobile devices will also become established at work in the future, for example in design and planning. 3D visualization in an augmented reality allows building plans to be displayed in a room in which entire teams are simultaneously working on a complex problem. According to experts, the technology has great potential to increase team productivity in development tasks. In the IFTF study, 86 percent of executives said that they were planning to use new technologies to improve employee productivity.

AI deployment will not be successful without human intelligence

Artificial intelligence will be irreplaceable in many “human” activities in the future: disease diagnosis, language translation, customer service, data analysis, production, design and maintenance. But the algorithms will be written by humans, who in turn will have to monitor the AI. To do this, they need skills that hardly any university teaches today. But without human intelligence, the use of AIs will not be successful. For this reason, companies must first make their employees fit for AI use.

Competence Management TÜV Rheinland Academy