AI is closer than we think, but really far away
It is 7:30 am and on your way to work, Siri reads aloud an email from your Boss that your request for new headcount has been approved. You do a virtual high five and pat yourself on the back for having programmed Siri to announce messages from VIPs. Siri then inquires if you’d like to set up interviews with candidates that have been shortlisted basis the role you had drafted. It offers to begin with internal candidates who have been in their current role for over 18 months and their development plan includes a rotation in a role, like yours. It also recommends 3 external candidates that came close to being shortlisted on the previous occasion and continue to remain employed at their previous organization basis their tweets from last night. On hearing affirmative, it sends out emails seeking candidate’s interest along with Job Description and offers a few slots when you can meet them basis your calendar. It even offers your favorite coffee place as a meeting location for external candidates, should they wish to keep this confidential. By the time you get into work at 8:30 am, you have received confirmations from 3 candidates, 1 of who is available to meet later in the day at 4 pm.
Welcome to the future of work or might I suggest, present for some!
Artificial Intelligence (AI), while still a fad for some, is collapsing many of our work processes that previously would have taken days by several people, into matter of minutes. Like other businesses, HR too is making rapid strides in use of AI across recruitment, onboarding, performance management, learning & development, coaching, off-boarding and alumni programs. For example, using AI, companies are removing biases (unconscious or otherwise) from their recruiting processes by surfacing most qualified candidates, not just the ones that went to the same school as you. Or using chatbots, on-boarding teams are now responding to new hire queries real-time, when it is convenient for them, rather than for you. Or, my favorite, using AI to predict the training you should consider if you are serious about advancing your career in the current place. There are many such use cases for HR in the AI world that have been written about already1. I believe HR in an AI world will warrant imagination and beginner’s mindset while remaining grounded in humanity. Remember the time you were excited about something or disappointed? Even if you chose to share that emotion on a social platform, you were looking for likes and comments from real humans, not chatbots. And yes, it was a human who imagined the chatbot or the numerous use cases for technology and AI.
Some fear that AI will replace humans and the jobs they perform. I, however, fear the day, when AI starts to displace humanity.
A man and a young boy checked in to a hotel and were shown to their room. The receptionists noted the quiet manner of the guests and the pale appearance of the boy. Later the man and boy ate dinner in the hotel restaurant and it was then the staff noticed that the boy seemed disinterested in his food. After eating, the boy went to his room and the man went to reception and asked to see the manager. The receptionist initially asked if there was a problem with the service or the room, and offered to fix things, but the man said that there was no problem and repeated his request to speak to the manager privately. Upon meeting the Manager, the man begins to explain that he was spending the night in the hotel with his son, who was seriously ill, probably terminally so. The boy was very soon to undergo therapy, which would cause him to lose his hair. They had come to the hotel to have a break together, and because the boy planned to shave his head, that night, rather than feel that the illness was beating him. The father said that he would be shaving his own head too, in support of his son. He asked that staff be respectful when the two of them came to breakfast with their shaved heads. The manager assured the father that he would inform all staff and that they would behave appropriately. The following morning the father and son entered the restaurant for breakfast. There they saw the restaurant staff attending to their duties, perfectly normally, all with shaved heads.
Hey Siri, how can I teach you to feel this way?