Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly becoming a mainstay, not only in our personal lives but also in almost every aspect of our workplaces. And, we can only image the impact it will have on the global corporate landscape, especially the employees.

With AI set to create an impact of $15.7 trillion on the global economy by 2030, there is absolutely no doubt that it will bring about a seismic shift in the way organizations do business. Organizations, large and small, are persistently looking for ways to use AI in their businesses, including a large number of AI-powered platforms in the Learning & Development (L&D) department. AI has certainly impacted the training industry, from admin tasks automation to adaptive learning and personalized learning, the impact is largely positive.

However, significant disruptions like this are bound to make people anxious, and understandably so, which often give rise to doubts, misconceptions and myths surrounding the technology. Here we debunk five myths surrounding AI and the future of work.

1. Scope of AI is limited

But, it is not! Though artificial, the intelligence is not to be underestimated. Some may argue that AI is nothing without the data that is fed into it by humans. Yes, agreed. But, an AI with machine learning and deep learning capabilities might make a counter argument that it can soon learn to do so by itself. Sounds farfetched? Well, not entirely.

Besides, data is increasingly complex, especially L&D data. According to Tina Marron-Partridge, global Talent & Engagement leader for IBM, “Implementing AI is not so much a technological challenge but a challenge of skills, culture and change management. Leaders must make the organization ready for AI in order for it to be successful.”

2. AI & Robots are one and the same

This couldn’t be farther from the fact. AI and robots are as different as the human brain and the human body, with AI being the brain and a robot being the body. Although there is a common tendency to think of AI and robots in the same vein, AI mostly works in the backend and is usually unseen (think Alexa and Google Home).

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence are two very separate areas of research and have separate use cases when it comes to industry adoption. For example, in automobile manufacturing, a robot is the physical arm that assembles the car part by part, while AI is the computer that automates this process.

3. AI will make people jobless

Although there are fears of mass unemployment in the age of AI, the situation is not as doom and gloom as expected. According to a study by Gartner, 2.3 million jobs will be created by AI as opposed to 1.8 million jobs lost by the year 2020.

According to the author of Artificial Intelligence for HR, Ben Eubanks, “Contrary to popular belief AI isn’t broadly replacing humans any time soon. People still want and benefit from interaction with each other, so ILT will still be an important part of training.”

With advanced AI capabilities, organizations are certain to replace few particular jobs. However, they won’t replace the people, but augment them. Marron-Partridge agrees, saying, “Instead of replacing humans in the workforce, AI will complement people skills and redefine the specific tasks that comprise most occupations, increasing opportunity and output for nearly every industry and profession.”

4. With AI, organizations won’t care about employees

According to Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study – Unlocking Growth in the Human Age, 94% organizations are seeking innovation as a core agenda, while employees are looking for more control of their personal and work lives.

However, the likely impact of automation on jobs and employment in general varies depending on the occupation and the industry as well. Even if few tasks performed by humans are automated, employees working in that function will be tasked with newer and more advanced jobs. Besides, the impact of automation on jobs, like people management, subject matter expertise, and social interactions, will be less as AI is still incapable of matching human performance in such areas.

Also, the future of work largely depends on the employees and how they match up to the expectations set by emerging technologies. According to Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business, “This year we saw palpable excitement from executives about shifting to the new world of work. They are pursuing an agenda of continuous evolution – rather than episodic transformation – to remain competitive. They recognize that it’s the combination of human skills plus advanced digital technology that will drive their business forward.”

5. My industry will have no impact from AI

Oh, but it will. With the astronomical rate at which AI is being adopted by organizations around the world, it is only a matter of years before AI has a significant impact on all industries. According to McKinsey, about half of the activities that employees are tasked with globally could be automated (theoretically). There is a long way to go before this happens, but happen it shall.

Adding some fuel to the myth fire is another expected trend where jobs like plumbers & gardeners, eldercare or childcare will likely witness lesser automation as such tasks are extremely tactile and tricky to automate, given the minimal ROI, as such occupations draw relatively low wages.

According to author of The Future Workplace Experience, Jeanne Meister, “There’s a fear factor around AI. Many people in HR don’t understand what the strategy is for using AI to improve the employee experience.” And, this fear factor is mostly derived from the myths and misconceptions surrounding AI. It is vital for industry experts, organizations, L&D and HR leaders and employees alike to truly understand the likely impact of AI and work in tandem to foresee any negative aspect before jumping to conclusion that will do more than just create a confused and ill informed society that fears AI.

You can join me at People Matters TechHR India 2019 conference to know more about the impact of AI in L&D and HR in my session on ‘Using AI to Increase Employee Engagement’. Meanwhile, please share your views if you have heard of or have been affected by any common myths surrounding AI in general.

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