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May 4, 2021

The Role of Human Wisdom in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has become a normal part of our lives. It is used in a range of industries, including banking, education, medicine and transportation. It’s also becoming increasingly commonplace in our homes with the use of virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home.  

AI was just an idea not so long ago. Now it does everything from diagnosing diseases and detecting fraud to controlling our smart homes. It’s not surprising that people think machines will take over and leave people out of work. However, as we’ll discuss in this post, AI can’t do everything, and there will always be a need for human input. Some research even shows that Europe may be able to boost productivity through AI without negatively affecting employment.

The Limitations of Artificial Intelligence

AI is essentially the programming of machines to think and act like human beings. It adds value to organizations and individuals by adding to the skills people already possess. Computers can complete tasks a lot faster than people, and they can stay focused on one complex or repetitive task much better than humans ever will. 

There are advantages to this. However, many people are wary of the widespread deployment of AI. They believe it could become impossible to restrain AI’s disruptive influences, and it could eventually harm individuals. Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking famously said the development of full AI could end the very existence of mankind while Elon Musk called it “far more dangerous than nukes.”

It is important to note that AI and human input often go hand-in-hand. There have also been occasions on which human beings had to step in after machines weren’t making the best decisions. This shows that AI has limitations, and it is not the answer to every problem. 

Machines don’t have thoughts, feelings, ethics, or values, and unless people can codify these in a way computers understand, they won’t learn them. This means that even if any organization relies heavily on AI, it will still need people to apply ethics and real-world knowledge to certain situations. People have wisdom – something which machines have yet to develop. Let’s look at some of the ways in which people and machines work together.

Medicine

Back in 2016, Harvard pathologists at Harvard Medical School used AI to assist in diagnosing breast cancer. The automatic approach accurately identified cancer cells around 92% of the time, compared to the human scientists who were accurate 96% of the time. However, when the pathologists’ analysis was paired with the AI-powered method, the accuracy rate increased to 99.5%. In this case, errors were reduced considerably when humans became involved.

Smart Homes

AI is some distance away from being equivalent to the human mind. Artificial intelligence will need human expertise to make sure that it is functioning correctly. It is against this backdrop that Google admitted to allowing workers to listento recordings of conversations users have with Google Assistant. The company said this helped the software to operate in several languages. There have even been reports of startups teaching their workers to behave like robotssince this was cheaper than teaching machines to behave like humans.

Social Media

Meanwhile, there has been much discussion surrounding social media algorithms. These algorithms help to determine the content each user sees, and in many cases, the posts are in line with our preferences. However, algorithms don’t understand the implications of the posts they recommend. They don’t understand social contexts. When only algorithms were in charge, one report found that controversial posts were getting greater reach because they increased engagement. This content actually helped to spur political divisions, leading Facebook to announce that it would hire human editors to help with content curation.

What AI Means for Workers

People often fear that robots will take over, making many jobs obsolete and leaving millions of workers unemployed. While AI can be deployed in any industry, one area of concern in the United States is the trucking industry. Truckers are a crucial part of the U.S. economy since they transport about 70% of the freight.  

In the face of a shortage of truck drivers,  these workers make an average annual salary of $53,000. Since companies spend so much on labor costs, many are eager to use autonomous driving. If this became a reality, truckers would be severely disadvantaged since they tend to be older workers without college degrees. They would have limited opportunities for employment.

This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for mature employees as AI technology continues to improve. Some mature workers could actually benefit. Remember, artificial intelligence is best suited to replace repetitive and mundane tasks. It can’t easily replace mature workers who have spent decades in tech and worked their way up to managerial roles. A human can’t be replaced by a machine in a job that relies on soft skills like empathy, listening, creative thinking, and conflict resolution. 

Mature employees know the nuances associated with their role and their industry. This makes them well equipped to handle situations that require the application of institutional knowledge and years of learned experience. 

What This Means for Employers

The continued deployment of AI will have implications for employers. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to replace all the humans in your organization. The most likely scenario is that you’ll use AI for repetitive, straightforward tasks while deploying people to work in more nuanced roles. Given what we discussed earlier, you may also want to use both AI and humans for certain tasks. There is no substitute for the wisdom of mature talent. If you need assistance with attracting or retaining mature talent in the age of automation.

Our team at WiseForce Advisors can help you.

Contact us today for a consultation!