If there’s a film in the works about robots controlling the day-to-day responsibilities of the HR industry, you’d be safe to assume that it would fall under the genre of science fiction and would be–let’s face it–pretty boring.
“Research as well as recent history suggest that these concerns are overblown and that we are neither headed toward a rise of the machine world nor a utopia where no one works anymore,“ wrote Michael Jones, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Cincinnati, in the Washington Post. “Humans will still be necessary in the economy of the future, even if we can’t predict what we will be doing.”
Jones acknowledges the reality of job losses to technology. ”Machines are indeed replacing humans and replicating what we thought were uniquely human skills at a faster rate than many of us thought possible until recently,” he wrote.
Still, Jones is optimistic about new opportunities that will emerge as technology becomes more present in the global workplace, pointing out that a “skills gap” will need to be filled with highly trained workers. “Fortunately, this is a problem that we can overcome with better education and training, rather than resigning ourselves to an irreversible decline in the share of jobs that require a human,” Jones wrote.
One advantage human have over their potential robotic counterparts is the ability to adapt and go off script to solve problems. Machines? Not so much. “For a long time, artificial intelligence has been better than us at highly structured, bounded tasks,” Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington with an expertise in robotics, wrote in Business Insider. “What it has not been good at, and likely won’t be good at any time soon, are the more unstructured tasks.”
In a story by David Johnson in Time Magazine, Jones argues that humans will hold onto jobs that center around interaction with others. “Do consumers want a robot to give them a physical at the doctor’s office, or to take their order at a restaurant?” Jones said.
Johnson also quotes Malcolm Frank, author of What To Do When Machines Do Everything, who argues that automation will make humans more creative. “We’re going to allow machines to do what machines do with excellence, and humans can do what humans do best,” Frank said.
Frank’s take on a future relationship between teachers and machines could easily be applied to HR. Citing teachers who would benefit from robots who can grade homework and identify students’ specific needs, Frank said the partnership could “free up humans to do higher impact, more creative work.”