Are Robots to Fear in The Future of HR?

While the growing conversation surrounding AI could lead us to think that the introduction of such technology is something new, it is a concept that has been around since the 1950’s. IBM has been working with the technology since that time, and while many consider it to be the future of everything from the home to the office, there are already real examples of its impact all over the world.

Without question, there are numerous implications for AI in HR, both in how HR professionals may do their work, and what types of jobs real people (rather than bots) will perform. These are two implications that can certainly cause concern for HR personnel, no matter their industry.

Accenture believes that AI is “the future of business,” and that it is technology that “senses, comprehends, acts and learns.” Learns? Yes, learns. Just a few months ago, Facebook shut down an AI engine after it was discovered that the AI had created its own language that humans can’t understand. Future of business? Yes. Present reality? Absolutely.

A recent article by the Wall Street Journal on How AI Is Transforming the Workplace detailed some of the HR-related examples of applications:

  1. AI can collect data from a variety of sources to find candidates for a job who might not otherwise apply, and candidates the company might not typically seek.
  2. An AI service helps companies analyze their worker’s emails to determine if they are unhappy about their job.
  3. Companies can also use AI to find employees who are likely to leave their job. legal editor and host of an award-wining podcast series, David Weisenfeld, talks of robots that operate as attorneys and sales clerks. There are even robots that make pizza, and robots who dispense medicine in hospitals. While AI is in almost every industry today, its transformation of the HR world gives rise to the concern that it might replace the “human” element of resources.

With technology that can interpret a candidate’s demeanor, facial expressions, and non-verbal clues (HireVue), to technology that processes an entire onboarding process (Essium), and to AI that finds employees about to jump ship, it’s no wonder HR professionals are concerned if a robot will one day take their place.

However, the good news for employees and businesses using AI is that the technology can free up time for HR professionals to commit their talents and strengths to the things that require leadership, empathy, team building, and interpersonal interactions that robots simply cannot perform.

Like any technological advance, the disruption of any industry brings about a new set of challenges and opportunities. The opportunity in this context is to recognize the potential that AI can bring to the industry, and to leverage it in a way that allows businesses and organizations to move with the efficient speed of technology while maintaining the human input that brings about meaningful significance to one’s career. Embrace the power of AI, and use it to leverage your greatest strengths as a person and a leader within your organization.