The first humans to witness fire were likely amazed by it. And when they harnessed it for themselves and learned to control it . . . that must have felt like pure magic. As magical as today’s generative AI programs might feel to us humans now. We are witnessing the birth of AI, and it’s important we answer the question “How will AI change the world?”
What Is AI?
AI is essentially the term for a machine or program that can perform cognitive and mechanical functions normally reserved for humans. When we look at how AI is changing the world, we see robots that can drive cars or aid in manufacturing. AI programs can chat with you, bring you customized search results, and comb data to understand patterns. AI helps with automation, predictability, and decision-making.
How Does AI Apply to Work?
Now, let’s talk about AI and the future of work. In the workplace, AI is being applied to both physical and mental tasks. Specialized robots are being replaced by ones that can perform general autonomous tasks. For example, the robot Spot from Boston Dynamics is designed to traverse uneven terrains with or without human intervention. This could aid in keeping human workers out of hazardous situations.
Then, of course, there’s ChatGPT from OpenAI. This generative AI program is trained to provide natural-sounding answers to varying prompts from each user. It can spit out math answers, coding solutions, poems, and more with a speed that will leave you breathless.
In a 2022 report from McKinsey, they show that the adoption of AI in businesses has more than doubled from 20% in 2017 to 50% in 2022. Remember this; it will be important later.
How Will AI Change Our Work?
The future of work with AI is still uncertain but looks promising. In an ideal world, AI does the brunt of the menial tasks, leaving humans to creative and critical thinking tasks. An AI program might collect and analyze data, supplying it in understandable ways for a worker to interpret, present, and make decisions on.
This requires buy-in from employees, something that requires work to produce. Dale Carnegie’s 2019 survey showed that the best way to get employees excited about AI (three times as excited, to be exact) is to inspire trust in leaders, help employees understand how the tech works, and increase workers’ soft skills to help them feel relevant to the company and their position.
Are All AI Changes for the Better?
We still have to ask ourselves, “Will AI help the world or hurt it?” Remember that statistic I told you to take note of? Well, there’s another part to it. While 50% of businesses used AI for at least one task in 2022, it was actually as high as 58% in 2019. We’ve regressed from the brink of total automation. Why? The McKinsey report indicates that there is still deep mistrust in many aspects of AI, from physical and digital safety to equality and job security.
The Actors Guild strike of 2023 began due to the threat of generative text programs taking over the writing of television and films. Multiple famous authors have teamed up to bring legal action against OpenAI for its use of their books to train their program. In May of 2023, a statement signed by 350 executives was released, urging humanity to look on AI as an extinction-level threat alongside pandemics and nuclear war. Overall, the privacy, legal, and equity concerns with AI still leave much to be figured out.
Taking AI Into the Future
So, how will AI affect the future? It is indisputably true that how AI will change the world depends on how we as humans approach it. AI is meant to be a tool for human use, not a replacement for ingenuity, creativity, or rationalization. As such, humans need to remain relevant to the workplace because they aren’t going anywhere. Increasing employees’ soft skills and integrating them with AI technology can mean maximizing beneficial results.
Learn how to keep your team up to date with the Dale Carnegie online workshop: Leading Change: AI and the Future of Organizational Culture