While robots are yet to roam in office hallways, taking over human jobs, the reality of the artificial intelligence system has already infiltrated most of the United States’ workplaces. In the near future, AIs and robots will increasingly perform most of the routine jobs held by humans. Humans will handle only the more complicated tasks because of their bigger perspective and interpersonal skills. This technological progress offers both peril and promises as it revolutionizes the future workplace, personal lives, and the economy. There is hope for advances in productivity, health, and safety, but significant economic disruptions, especially in the workforce, are inevitable (Plastino and Purdy, 2018). On one side, artificial intelligence and robotics will benefit the workplace by saving coworkers from having to do repetitive and often tedious tasks that are part of their job description. On the other side, the concern is that even though this technology enhances efficiency and productivity, pay and benefits will be affected because people may have to spend less time at the workplace (Buchmeister, Palcic, and Ojstersek, 2019). Additionally, people with low-level education who primarily perform repetitive jobs may lose their source of employment and source of income. Others argue that AI and robotics will create more jobs than they eliminate. This paper will provide a general overview of the increased adoption of robots and artificial intelligence in the workplace.
Despite the significant boost in productivity and efficiency at the workplace, there is a challenge in implementing the technology into human resource procedures and practices. Combined with other progressive technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, and artificial intelligence, it will bring more efficiency in producing goods and services (Plastino and Purdy, 2018). AI systems already perform repetitive tasks but can also be trained to undertake a wide range of cognitive and non-routine functions. For instance, advanced robotics are increasingly able to carry out manual tasks. The workplace and society as a whole will benefit from lower production costs and improved productivity, but many employees will be negatively affected. According to recent research, 50 percent of today’s working population is in sectors vulnerable to such disruption in the near future. For instance, some automakers are rolling out autonomous trucks, which will replace thousands of drivers. Recent reports also predict that machines could replace over 2 million more workers in the manufacturing industry in the next three years (Buchmeister, Palcic, and Ojstersek, 2019). Even middle-level jobs that require cognition are vulnerable to this shift in workplace technology. Some of the jobs that artificial intelligence can automate include loan underwriting, tax preparation, radiology, financial analysis, and software engineering.
Another study found that 47 percent of white-collar jobs are at high risk of automation over the next ten years (Chelliah, 2017). For example, since the introduction of IBM’s Watson technology in diagnosis, many healthcare employees that previously performed diagnostic tasks have been rendered redundant. Entry-level tasks for lawyers are being automated, such as AI and robots scanning thousands of precedents and legal briefs in seconds to facilitate pre-trial research. Artificial intelligence has introduced sophisticated algorithms that are gradually replacing humans in several tasks previously performed by patent and contract lawyers and paralegals. The automation and computerization of tasks are made possible by the availability of big data. Specifically, the invention and advancement in sensing technology have made it possible to collect big data through sensor data. Another labor-intensive industry that is about to be disrupted by AI and robotics is education (Bhargava, Bester, and Bolton, 2021). In recent years, there has been a huge rise in open online classes and courses that generate large data sets with details of students’ interaction on education forums, grades, and their aptitude in completing assignments and covering lectures (Chelliah, 2017). The most likely white-collar jobs to be taken over by robotics and AI due to increased machine learning include civil engineers and technicians, surveyors, market research specialists and analysts, technical writers, accountants and auditors, and examiners.
Artificial intelligence and robotics have already disrupted the workplace by replacing humans with tasks that can be automated, especially in production. Technology is gradually replacing service jobs, particularly those involving customer engagement. Adopting this innovation in the service sector will lead to job losses, and customers will lose the chance to obtain human service (Huang and Rust, 2018). Artificial intelligence and robotics technology in the service sector involves four intelligences: mechanical, analytical, intuitive, and empathetic. Mechanical intelligence involves the capacity to automatically perform repeated, routine tasks. Humans provide unskilled mechanical labor in the service sector without necessarily undergoing advanced education or training (Bhargava, Bester, and Bolton, 2021). Some service employees who only require mechanical skills are call center agents, customer care handlers, and waiters and waitresses. Their tasks involve processes that have been performed numerous times and thus do not require much thinking or creativity (Brougham and Haar, 2018). Analytical intelligence concerns with the capacity to process information to solve problems and learn in the process. Analytical skills are used by engineers, data scientists, accountants, financial analysts, and technology-related employees. AI and robotics perform their roles through training, machine learning, specialization in cognitive thinking, and expertise.
Intuitive intelligence also threatens job security for many professionals because it involves the ability of machines and systems to think creatively and adjust accordingly depending on the situation. Huang and Rust (2018) consider it a wisdom-based experience and holistic thinking. Robots and AIs will likely take over jobs requiring hard thinking and advanced professional skills requiring creative problem-solving and insights. Such jobs include lawyers, marketing managers, doctors, management consultants, and senior travel agents. Artificial intelligence is increasingly used in these roles because it is improbable for AI systems or robotics to commit a mistake twice due to their learning nature (Bhargava, Bester, and Bolton, 2021). What prevents AI from being widely implemented in the workplace for such jobs is that humans provide consciousness, self-awareness, and sentience. However, with machine learning technology, AI is acquiring those attributes. Humans also have the upper hand over machines and systems because of their empathetic intelligence (Brougham and Haar, 2018). It is the capacity to recognize and interpret others’ emotions, react appropriately, and influence other people’s emotions. Humans have interpersonal skills that enable them to work well with others by being sensitive to their feelings. Currently, there are AI that can recognize how users feel and behave as if to have feelings. Empathetic AI, such as social media technologies, recognizes the crucial role of emotions in human cognition and perception (Huang and Rust, 2018). For example, Sophia is a sophisticated robot designed to appear and behave like humans. Such technology will replace people working in the service sector or providing psychological comfort, babysitting, and well-being in nursing homes.
Apart from rendering many workers redundant, robots and artificial intelligence will significantly change the type of employment for ordinary U.S. workers. First, technology can reduce the range of tasks humans perform but cannot entirely replace them in some jobs (Plastino and Purdy, 2018). However, they will be left with fewer duties, which could mean fewer working hours and/or static or reduced wages. Companies will strive to lower their expenses by having more part-time and remote employees. Artificial intelligence has made it possible for some workers to perform their tasks from the comfort of their homes because machines and systems can perform roles that require physical presence. This will affect their remuneration as well as their employment contracts. Moreover, the integration of artificial intelligence in HR practices will also affect employment conditions (Brougham and Haar, 2018). For instance, workplaces can embed AI in their HR procedures by setting predictive algorithms that can undertake recruitment and performance appraisal tasks. The algorithmic tools can analyze resumes, predict job performance, and sometimes perform facial analysis during interviews to assess the interviewee’s attention span and optimism.
Artificial intelligence and robotics use in human resource practices, such as supervised machine learning, will streamline HR processes in the workplace by enabling fairness in employment processes. Technology has the potential to avoid subjectivity and biases inherent in the human subconscious. However, it will equally affect some employees because of its capacity to replicate human subjectivity and biases and enable systematic discrimination (Plastino and Purdy, 2018). The AI algorithms are informed by historical data during their machine learning. The historical data is not free of human biases or systematic discrimination. Using that data to predict a candidate’s suitability, for instance, will replicate those vices in the recruitment process. Also, most of these algorithms are trained to recognize word patterns in resumes rather than skill sets to assess the candidate’s suitability for the job. The algorithm is designed to streamline the hiring process by identifying applicants whose resumes have relatively similar attributes to those of historically successful employees (Brougham and Haar, 2018). The similarity indicates the likelihood of these candidates performing well for the company. Therefore, AIs and robots can replace human tasks in HR processes but will not necessarily address the issue of biases and subjectivity.
The paper has provided a general overview of the increased adoption of robots and artificial intelligence in the workplace. AI systems already perform repetitive tasks but can also be trained to undertake various cognitive and non-routine functions. Even middle-level jobs that require cognition are vulnerable to this shift in workplace technology. The workplace and society as a whole will benefit from lower production costs and improved productivity, but many employees will be negatively affected. Research shows that half of U.S. workers are in sectors vulnerable to such disruption in the near future. Artificial intelligence has introduced sophisticated algorithms that are gradually replacing humans in several tasks previously performed by white-collar employees. Technology is also replacing service jobs, particularly those that involve customer engagement. Adopting this innovation in the service sector will lead to job losses, and customers will lose the chance to obtain human service. Apart from rendering many workers redundant, robots and artificial intelligence will significantly change the type of employment for ordinary U.S. workers who will have fewer duties, which could mean fewer working hours and/or static or reduced wages.
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