When the world began tinkering with artificial intelligence and machine learning, they were hardly a threat. Then Deep Blue and AlphaGo came along. The world began to realize that it is possible that under certain defined situations, AI could be smarter than human beings are. Then AlphaGo Zero came along and nightmares of world dominance re-emerged. It isn’t without basis that Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are wary of where experiments with artificial intelligence could take us. Artificial intelligence is advancing on a daily basis while natural intelligence is exactly where it has always been.
When human resource professionals discuss AI, the discussions fall into two broad buckets (1) how does HR leverage AI and (2) is AI going to take away HR jobs? I enjoy sitting in on discussions of the first kind. It is the discussions of the second nature that exasperate me and it is that very question I will tackle today. Experts in HR have thrown many consolations at us saying that this fear is irrational - that AI is not going to take away jobs, it is only going to take away tasks. I find this rather silly. If Elon Musk’s fear is that of us turning into house cats and us having to escape to Mars to save ourselves, HR’s fear of AI taking over jobs is highly rational in comparison. It is another fact entirely that many HR jobs are but a combination of tasks with little judgement. This isn’t just in HR either. There are many jobs across the world that constitute only of repetitive tasks and these are the very jobs that AI will first target to take over.
It doesn’t stop there. Just as AlphaGo Zero discovered new knowledge, developed unconventional strategies and creative new moves that echoed and surpassed the novel techniques originally taught, modern and future AI systems could do much of what an HR professional does today.
What does this mean for us then? It isn’t that difficult to put together. We need to get smarter. That natural intelligence of ours – we need to sharpen it to stay a step ahead in the game. More importantly, we need to understand artificial intelligence. Just how many HR’s in the room talking about AI can clearly explain what it is and how it works, the difference between AI, machine learning, computer vision and robotics? These vastly interlinked subjects will all have an impact on the future of work and unless we arm ourselves with an understanding of this, we stand to become obsolete. This doesn’t translate into us becoming technologists though that would be fantastic. What it does translate into is us having to dive deep just as we need to do in the space of analytics or any other tool that promises to make our life easier and more effective.
It is not all darkness though. Nightmares around AI taking over the world may come true a few generations later or maybe not at all. AI taking over jobs in HR is definitely something that isn’t coming to life in the current decade. This gives us plenty of time to wrap our heads around the potential of AI, how we can leverage this powerful tool to serve us vs the other way around. I, for one, am enrolling into one of the many free MOOC’s available. One has to start somewhere.
This article is brought to you exclusively by The Business Transformation Network.
Ankita Poddar is HR Business Partner at Amazon
Ankita is an HR professional based out of India. Identified as one of the top emerging young HR leaders in India in 2016, Ankita’s experience as an HR Business Partner gives her the opportunity to work closely with business leaders, innovate and execute on the behalf of customers especially in areas of people analytics, employee engagement, rewards and recognition and performance management.
Ankita blogs about all things HR at https://thehrbpstory.com.
You can follow her on Twitter @ankitapoddar.