Understand the human value of the workforce as artificial intelligence advances

Employee Benefits Connect 2017: HR and benefits professionals should understand the human value of their work and that of employees as technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation advances.

Delivering the closing keynote address ‘Innovation now and in the future’ at Employee Benefits Connect 2017, Mark Brill, senior lecturer and consultant in digital media, innovation, Internet of Things (IoT) and futurology at the University of Birmingham (pictured), discussed technological innovations and the impact these could have on our personal and working lives.

Advancements in AI mean that robots are becoming more adept at cognitive thinking and problem solving, moving beyond simple processes and repetitive functions. This is expected to fundamentally change ways of working across a range of industries, from sectors such as transport and accounting to potentially the creative professions.

Brill said: “Don’t assume that just because your job requires some intellectual processing robots can’t do that, because they are able to do that and they are able to learn.”

However, Brill warned against fearing ‘the rise of the robots’ and instead suggested seeking to better understand the human element at the core of professions. This is particularly pertinent in sectors such as care and hairdressing where basic human interaction and physical touch form a key part of the role.

Brill said: “It’s about the human. My advice to you is to say: what is the human value of people? What is that interaction that isn’t about process and isn’t about the thing the machine is going to do? What is it that makes us human?”