Despite fears, companies believe AI can change workplace for better

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Even as fears about artificial intelligence (AI) mount accross the globe, organisations still believe that pairing humans alongside machine intelligence will create a more effective workforce, according to a study.

A study by the US-based Pegasystems reveals that there is a widespread belief that machine intelligence will work ubiquitously alongside humans over time.

Seven out of 10 respondents (69 per cent) believe the term 'workforce' will evolve to contain both humans and machine intelligence over time, says the survey.

The survey was conducted among 845 senior executives working globally across key industry sectors, including financial services, insurance, manufacturing, retail, telecoms and media and government, and they were querried about the increased role AI and robotic automation will play in the workplace of the future.

Respondents believe that AI-augmented employees will generate tangible business returns such as more efficiency (73 per cent) and better customer service (62 per cent). However, the effects may extend even deeper as AI transforms the way people work,are managed and rewarded, it added.

Eight out of 10 respondents (78 per cent) believe that AI and robotic automation will allow staff to make more informed decisions and lead to a flattening of traditional management hierarchies.

Though 88 per cent are comfortable working together with machines, they are less enthusiastic about being managed by them as 79 per cent respondents are not comfortable with an AI-powered boss.

As organisations increasingly come under scrutiny on equal pay for equal work issues, the study finds that use of unbiased machine intelligence to analyse employee effectiveness can be the key to levelling the playing field.

Two-thirds believe that widespread use of AI will give rise to a more transparent meritocracy in the workplace.

Almost 74 per cent think that within 10 years, AI will become standard practice for evaluating employee performance, while 72 per cent predict it will be commonly used to set appropriate rewards and compensation.

Eighty-four per cent believe that it will be commonplace for AI to calculate the true value added by each worker within a decade, while 44 percent see this happening within five years.

The respondents also expect the number of permanent employees at Fortune 500 companies to halve by 2030.

Meanwhile, 85 per cent expect the use of more flexible, freelance customer service staff will make it easier to provide customers with 24/7 service, while 82 per cent forecast faster response times as a direct result.

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