Re­design­ing Work in an Era of Cog­ni­tive Tech­nolo­gies

Rotman Management Magazine - - NEWS - by David Schatsky and Jeff Schwartz

Cog­ni­tive tech­nolo­gies will change the em­ploy­ment land­scape in the com­ing years, lead­ing to the re­design of jobs and the in­tro­duc­tion of new types of work.

Cog­ni­tive tech­nolo­gies will change the em­ploy­ment land­scape, lead­ing to the re­design of jobs and the in­tro­duc­tion of new kinds of work.

of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) has provRAPID PROGRESS IN THE FIELD voked in­tense de­bate about the im­pli­ca­tions of this trend for so­ci­ety. Some see a driver of eco­nomic growth and bound­less op­por­tu­ni­ties to im­prove liv­ing stan­dards. Oth­ers see ex­is­ten­tial threats rang­ing from killer ro­bots to wide­spread tech­no­log­i­cal un­em­ploy­ment. Though we be­lieve the worst of th­ese fears are overblown, cog­ni­tive tech­nolo­gies — the prod­ucts of the field of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) — can­not be ig­nored. They are an emerg­ing source of com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage for busi­ness and are on their way to ubiq­uity at work and at home.

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence re­searchers have sought to de­velop tech­niques to en­able com­put­ers to per­form a wide range of tasks once thought to be solely the do­main of hu­mans, in­clud­ing play­ing games, rec­og­niz­ing faces and speech, mak­ing de­ci­sions un­der un­cer­tainty, learn­ing, and trans­lat­ing be­tween lan­guages. We dis­tin­guish be­tween the field of AI and the tech­nolo­gies that em­anate from the field, which we call ‘cog­ni­tive tech­nolo­gies’. Com­monly used cog­ni­tive tech­nolo­gies in­clude ma­chine learn­ing, com­puter vi­sion, speech recog­ni­tion, nat­u­ral lan­guage pro­cess­ing and ro­bot­ics.

Over the next three to five years, cog­ni­tive tech­nolo­gies will likely have a pro­found im­pact on work, work­ers and or­ga­ni­za­tions. Th­ese tech­nolo­gies can and will be used to elim­i­nate jobs; but they will also make it pos­si­ble to re­design work, cre­at­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties for work­ers and greater value for busi­nesses and their cus­tomers. In this ar­ti­cle we will dis­cuss the au­toma­tion choices ahead and de­scribe the cost and value as­so­ci­ated with each.

Con­flict­ing Views

There is an ac­tive, often sen­sa­tion­al­ist, de­bate un­der­way over the im­pact of cog­ni­tive tech­nolo­gies on em­ploy­ment. One side

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