The challenge of change: on fear and creating the impossible

The biggest obstacle to change is fear. People are afraid of change. We don’t know what the future holds but we know that artificial intelligence (AI) will play a large role in it, especially when it comes to how we work and live. Many are afraid that robots will replace them and that their skills will become outdated.

Paul Daugherty and James Wilson quote Alan Turing in their book Human + Machines:

To embrace AI and reap its untapped potential, we need a shift in mindset. We need to become playful again and not be afraid to experiment and to innovate.

Daugherty, in an interview about his book, said:

“We’ve got an optimistic, a cautiously optimistic, view of what’s going to happen with jobs. There’s certainly going to be many millions of people whose jobs are impacted in the short to medium term with AI as we use it to automate and do things differently. That’s been the case with every technology and we have to make sure that we’re investing in equipment and people who are impacted to reskill them and retrain them for those jobs that are coming. AI requires many new roles, many interesting new jobs to support the AI systems we’re developing, the robotic systems that make them work.”

Daugherty believes that the future is about reinventing how people learn and looking at new ways to transform. When we can do that, we not only benefit our own businesses and workers, but society at large.

Using smart technologies to make the world a better place

Accenture research found that 66 percent of workers expect technology to have a positive effect on their work in the next five years. Seventy-five percent of C-suite executives see the value and are currently investing in new technologies.

But we need to use and apply AI in a responsible manner. To return to Mark Knickrehm’s article, many people believe that AI will change our ways of working to our overall benefit. It will increase productivity and create new types of jobs, allowing humans to do more meaningful work. But to make sure that everyone benefits, businesses need to invest in education programs to reskill their workers to work with smart machines.

These programs must take cognizance of regulatory imperatives and ethics to ensure that we ‘raise’ AI systems that are fair, transparent and accountable.

Why good AI is good for society

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Daugherty and Wilson wrote that “while AI will radically alter how work gets done and who does it, the technology’s larger impact will be in complementing and augmenting human capabilities, not replacing them”.

When we can shift our mindset, the world will be at our feet. Ultimately, we are in control of deciding how we’ll use AI to boost business, empower workers and create our new realities.

We can also use AI to make the word a better place.

In our report on Responsible AI, we found that we can use AI to create a flourishing society that uses insights derived from data, machine learning and other technologies to:

  • Support social inclusion, for example combating loneliness among the elderly;
  • Include people with disabilities, helping them accomplish tasks and participate in areas where they couldn’t before;
  • Diagnose diseases more effectively and use technology and humans to improve healthcare in other ways;
  • Protect the environment; and
  • Support better public services.

What we know today about AI has the potential to change the world, not just business. And it starts with leaders across industries seeing the potential, investing in AI and—critically—training their workers to get the most out of human-machine collaboration. This is a huge change for organizations and HR must be at the center of this behavioral and cultural mindset shift.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to create an AI-enabled workforce. For more information, download the Future Workforce reports for Banking and Insurance. To find out more about digital HR in FS or to join us at the Change Directors Forum and People Innovation Forum in London, please contact me here or on Twitter @knott_nic.

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