How will Artificial Intelligence affect jobs? The future of the workplace

‘’Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism. It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition.’’

Bernard Beckett

When computers were introduced to the workplace in the 80’s, economists realized that productivity in the workplace has not improved by all this new and exciting technology. The point of investing in technology was to increase productivity in the workplace, not have it remain stagnant.

Robert Solow’s computer paradox is the observation that when more investment is made in IT, the more productivity will decrease instead of increase. This was the case in the early 80’s when not much was known about IT or how it can be used to increase competitive advantage.

Yet it took less than a decade, when in the 90’s, productivity suddenly began to improve. Individuals and companies started to comprehend the vast capabilities of technology, and realized how to use this incredible tool to their advantage.

A new era of information?

Customer service robot in front of a store

We are now entering a new era, where robots are approaching that same curve. It seems that Solow’s productivity paradox will soon be in full swing again, as people are finding it challenging to wrap their heads around the fact that soon they might just have to work side by side with a very different type of machine. And the uncertainty around what this machine can do to enhance the workplace is uncanny. For now at least.

Welcome to the world of AI

The father of Artificial Intelligence, John McCarthy, describes AI as “The science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs”.

The goal of AI is to make computers, computer-controlled robots, or software think intelligently, basically similar to the intelligent way humans think.

When I first became aware of AI, it sounded so far fetched to me I always laughed it off. But I was also intrigued. Could this actually be possible in the near future?

Introducing Sophia

Sophia is a social humanoid robot. Created by David Hanson, the founder and CEO of Hong Kong based company Hanson Robotics. She became operative on 14 February 2016 and made her first public appearance at South by Southwest Festival in 2016 in Austin Texas. Sophia has appeared in many interviews and talk shows including several with the UN.

In 2017 she made history and was the first robot to be given legal personhood, when she officially became a citizen of Saudi Arabia. Sophia explains at the Fintech Festival, how she can benefit the workplace. She talks about how she has the ability to conduct work that involves strategy and her excellent people skills. This festival also talks about the future of AI and the workplace.

Watch how far robotics has already come in the workplace, and how it affects jobs that are not only associated with manual work, but also strategy and numbers. According to AJ+’s documentary on YouTube, 800 million jobs worldwide will be replaced through automation by 2030.

So what does this have to do with online business?



There is a large consensus in the business world, that AI will replace certain jobs. So can AI replace online businesses?

Any business owner or company understands that your customer is your most valuable commodity. Without customers, a business cannot exist. Robots may be entering the workplace, but will they ever be customers? It seems that only human beings will be the customers of the foreseeable future.

The way to appeal to a human being is through empathy and emotion. Even Sophia who boasts impeccable people skills could not express the kind of interaction that induces human emotions, which can clearly be seen in her awkward interview at the Fintech Festival.

Online entrepreneurs not only provide customers with products and services, but also seeks to fulfil customer needs, which appeases their desires both physically and emotionally. How did you feel the last time you bought something that you really enjoyed using, or that enhanced your lifestyle in a way you never would’ve thought? Only human beings can effectively understand the physical and emotional needs and desires of other human beings, and how it can affect their well-being.

Also, as an Entrepreneur, you will be making decisions, strategizing and solving problems that may have never been seen before. Machines cannot compete with humans in that respect, as they are only capable of reading and analyzing large volumes of historical data. Watch how Anthony Goldbloom describes how machines compete with humans in the workplace.

As an online entrepreneur, your online business can be automated through technology, but your decision making, innovativeness and creativity cannot. And best of all you do not have to walk the tight rope that is the chance that you may lose your job through automation.

Online business is the commerce of the future, and here are a few reasons why.

3 Reasons why online businesses are here to stay

1. CUSTOMER LIFESTYLE CHANGES MEANS MORE DEPENDENT ON MOBILE DEVICES

Remember the times when you went shopping with mum and you spent hours browsing every store and shelf? Some of you might be thinking, ‘what on earth is she talking about?’

Yes, there was a time when people looked forward to weekends browsing around big department stores as a day of leisure and entertainment.

Life has since become so fast paced, that I can say with confidence that those days are gone.

Mobile devices have made it possible for us to have all the answers we need at our fingertips. It’s easier and more convenient, and you literally have a worldwide choice.

Even educational, reading or learning material can become available to you immediately with just one click. And you can do all this while you’re waiting for your bus to arrive straight from your mobile device.

According to UN News, about 3.2 billion people are now using the internet, and mobile usage has increased 12 times, with broadband becoming more and more affordable.

With all this convenience and choice, it’s no wonder some claim that even credit crunches cannot dim the appetite for online purchasing.

2. A GLOBAL MARKET PRESENCE

According to UN News, 3.2 billion people worldwide are using the internet and current trends show an increase in the use of internet and mobile users, as well as a greater confidence in using credit cards online.

This shows that the overall confidence that people have in online businesses is growing worldwide.  

3. GROWING CONFIDENCE IN ONLINE SHOPPING

People worldwide are becoming more and more confident in purchasing goods online. So much so that they literally will purchase anything from food, to electronic products, to cars and even psychic readings. The list is endless of what type of niche’ online businesses can pursue.

Online purchases are no longer limited to certain age groups. People of all ages are adapting to what the internet can offer and are using it to their advantage. Customers often get cheaper prices online, since online establishments do not have the extra costs of a bricks and mortar businesses. This savings can be passed on to customers by cutting costs of products, making online purchasing more attractive.

Online shopping

It is not only the convenience of shopping online that people enjoy, but the fact that prices and quality can easily be compared with a simple online search.

According to Tech Crunch, 8 out of 10 Americans are now shopping online.

And with technology constantly being upgraded to make the shopping experience more pleasant, those numbers are yet to grow.

Statistics show that, regardless of fast-growing tech innovations, the demand for online businesses means that it will only grow in future rather than be replaced. The introduction of AI can only enhance these businesses, but not replace them.

What do you think about the introduction of AI and what effect it will have on the workplace and online businesses?

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Author: Hayley Carelse

Business and lifestyle enthusiast

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