Reimagining Work in the Age of AI — A conversation with Paul Daugherty, CTO, Accenture
by T.M. Ravi, Managing Director, The Hive
Man-versus-machine. Robots taking over the jobs that humans do. These are some of the dramatic predictions that are common these days about the future of work resulting from the rapid advances in AI. Paul Daugherty, the Chief Technology Officer and Chief Strategy Officer of Accenture, however has a different perspective. Paul is one of the leading thinkers on AI and how it is transforming the enterprise. I had the pleasure of engaging with him in a fireside chat at the Montgomery Summit in Santa Monica, CA on Wednesday March 7th where we discussed his new book with James Wilson, “Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI”.
Paul believes that the “machines replacing humans” view is too simplistic a view and that AI’s key impact will be in augmentation and not replacement of humans. The opportunity with AI is to amplify and extend human skills. Human-Machine collaboration will result in dramatic gains in business productivity.
There are a set of skills where machines are superior — the ability to analyze large amounts of data, perform routine tasks, repetitive tasks, etc. These tasks are robotic jobs that machines will end up doing. Humans however, have strengths such as creativity, judgement, improvisation, etc. which will result in a set of jobs for humans-only.
Paul thinks that there is a third category of new jobs where humans and machines will collaborate. This is what he calls the “missing middle” — a new way of working that is enabled by AI. The missing middle consists of new jobs where humans complement machines and another set of jobs where machines augment humans.
As Paul sees it, in the first category of humans complementing machines, there will be a new set of novel jobs created to train, explain and sustain AI. Take the example of domain experts training a bot or people training chatbots to have empathy and personality. There will also be a new set of jobs to oversee AI — validate quality of automated decisions, supervision of proper and ethical use of AI (AI compliance, AI safety), etc.
Examples in the second category of machines augmenting humans include: augmented reality and virtual reality to assist in field service, analytics engines to enable people to make better decisions, and robot arms that physically collaborate with humans on factory floors.
Paul believes that AI will help humans have super powers! With the help of AI, people will have amazing insights, make better decisions, and will scale at unprecedented levels. We have already seen examples of physical collaboration between people and robots in factories and we are about to see how this collaboration will revolutionize every business process.
I strongly recommend that you read “Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI” which provides a management guide to businesses on how to use AI to drive business value. It is a nuanced viewpoint on the future of work where AI will free humans from being robotic and allow them to be more human!
Want to hear more? To watch the full fireside chat, visit The Hive YouTube page.