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Artificial intelligence and the future of work

by HARVEY MACKAY
| April 14, 2024 1:00 AM

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a fascinating and rapidly evolving field that has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work. Personally, I view AI as a tool that, when used wisely, can enhance our capabilities and improve our efficiency.

We are already using AI in many aspects of our daily lives, often without even realizing it. Whether it is asking Siri for directions, using Google to search for information or relying on smart home devices like Alexa to play music or set reminders, AI has become an integral part of our routine.

Forbes Magazine says, "By 2025, an estimated 95% of customer interactions will be supported by AI technology."

It is important to remember that AI is a tool created by humans to serve humans. The goal is not to replace the human touch but to augment it. AI can handle repetitive tasks, analyze large data sets and even assist in complex problem-solving. Artificial intelligence can automate routine tasks, thereby reducing errors. This frees up human workers to focus on more complex and creative endeavors. But AI cannot replicate the creativity, empathy and intuition that humans bring to the table.

Ginni Rometty, former CEO of IBM said, "Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we'll augment our intelligence." 

With its ability to process and analyze vast amounts of data, AI can uncover insights and patterns that might be missed by humans, aiding in more informed decision-making. AI can drive product development and innovation, helping businesses to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market.

Artificial intelligence can also provide personalized experiences for customers, from chatbots that offer instant customer service to recommendation systems that tailor content to individual preferences.

AI opens the door to new technological advancements and business models, driving innovation across various industries. The initial investment of AI technology can be significant, and not all businesses may have the resources to implement and maintain these systems effectively. However, by automating tasks, AI can help reduce labor costs and operational expenses, reducing the need for manual intervention in certain processes.

Artificial intelligence, however, can be a double-edged sword. While it offers all the benefits I listed above, it also presents certain challenges that we must navigate carefully.

Susan Sly, a two-time AI startup founder who was voted as one of the top 15 women in the world in real-time AI in 2024, spoke to my Roundtable group, explaining: "AI is like a toddler right now. It will grow up to be a teenager, and you know what teenagers like to do — rebel. They do what you tell them not to do."

The impact of AI on the job market will be severe. A McKinsey report suggests that 400-800 million jobs worldwide could be displaced by 2030 due to automation and AI. Also, an overreliance on AI could lead to a loss of certain skills and a diminished ability to perform tasks without technological assistance.

During her presentation, Susan listed some of the jobs that will likely be going away, such as therapist, accountant, analyst, executive assistant, translator, medical assistant, fashion designer, paralegal, radiologist, teacher, journalist, editor, architect and influencer.  

On the flip side, Susan said the people who work with their hands will have the most money and power in the future — construction workers, electricians, plumbers, surgeons and pilots. Good industries to be in include food preparation, transportation, fishing and farming.

This is a stark reminder that we must adapt and learn to work alongside these technologies. Those who embrace AI and improve their skills to complement machine capabilities will likely find themselves at an advantage.

Artificial intelligence systems can raise ethical questions, especially regarding privacy, surveillance and the potential for bias in decision-making processes. AI systems can be vulnerable to hacking and other security breaches, which could have serious implications if they control critical infrastructure or sensitive data. I suspect that's what frightens people the most.

As we look to the future, the key is to approach AI with a mindset of collaboration rather than fear. By understanding its capabilities and limitations, we can harness its power to create a more efficient and innovative world while also safeguarding the qualities that make us uniquely human. The point is to team up with AI to multiply your own intelligence.

Artificial intelligence can be your best business ally or your worst nightmare. It all depends on how you integrate it into your strategy.

Mackay's Moral: Artificial intelligence is where data meets destiny.

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Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website, www.harveymackay.com, by emailing harvey@mackay.com or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.