The potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning on the workforce in the financial services (FS) and other industries made a lot of headlines in 2017. So, it should come as no surprise to see that trend continuing in the new year.

Design and innovation consultancy Fjord, a subsidiary of Accenture Song, has released its annual report, “Fjord Trends 2018,” identifying seven trends affecting business, technology and design. Among those is, “A machine’s search for meaning,” which explores the future of work with machines in 2018 and beyond.

Much of the conversation around AI and machines has so far focused on the threat they pose to the workforce, the report rightfully notes. But it’s time for organizations to “stop talking about it and start designing for this change, by coming to terms with how to enable people and machines to get the best out of each other.”

Fjord points to a great example: A Harvard-based team recently devised an AI method that can identify cancer cells with 92 percent accuracy. In their experiment, the pathologists bested the machines with 96 percent accuracy. When they worked together, however, human pathologists and AI achieved nearly perfect accuracy at 99.5 percent.

Instead of focusing on which jobs AI and machine learning will make obsolete, FS firms must now shift the conversation to finding innovative ways in which machines and people can collaborate.

In a recent global survey of more than 1,000 large companies already using or testing AI and machine-learning systems, Accenture identified three new uniquely human job categories—Trainers, Explainers and Sustainers—where humans will complement the tasks performed by cognitive technology, created by the rise of AI-enabled machines. Trainers will teach AI systems how to perform, process data and behave. Explainers will articulate to business executives the inner workings of AI systems, improving transparency. Sustainers will ensure that AI is fair, safe and responsible.

Moving forward in 2018, FS organizations must deepen their understanding of AI, consider how to integrate these new human job categories into their workforce, and optimize strategies accordingly.

In my next post, I will examine the four recommendations from Fjord on how to make the best of machines in the workforce in 2018 and beyond.

To learn more, download the full report: Boost your AIQ.

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