Friday, March 23, 2018

The Rise of the No-collar Workforce

One of the ideas put forward in Deloitte's 2018 Tech Trends listing is that of the No-collar workforce. The thought of course is that Artificial Intelligence is taking over a lot of human activities. AI is nothing new, but the power of the AI that is emerging is very new, and raises a lot of important questions.

As Deloitte puts it, we have "Humans and machines in one loop—collaborating in roles and new talent models. Is HR prepared to manage both man and machine? As automation, artificial intelligence, and cognitive technologies gain traction, companies may need to reinvent worker roles, assigning some to humans, others to machines, and still others to a hybrid model in which technology augments human performance."

The question being raised here centers around the idea that HR departments may have to manage machines along with humans. This makes a lot of sense. AI capable machines carry a cost with them. If they are going to replace humans, then someone needs to manage the economics of those replacements. Is it going to save money to automate a particular function or not? If a function is carried out by humans, would it make more sense to simply augment those humans with additional cognitive abilities enabled by AI rather than replacing them?

Of course, it is management's job to allocate and manage the use of resources they have at hand and they have managed humans and technology for some time. What's new is that the role of technology is getting closer to the role of humans and more interchangeable. And as more human/machine hybrids become available, it inevitably becomes very much a HR concern. It's likely that the divisions will become more blurred as time goes on.

Just wait until the machines decide to join unions! Why not? The hybrids will already be members.

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