Learning to Work With Robots Is How You Can Save Your Job
You aren't likely to be replaced by artificial intelligence but you could be replaced by somebody who does the job better using artificial intelligence.
Machines are all around us -- driving, conversing, making decisions. With 55 percent of mature organizations planning to invest in artificial intelligence by 2020, it's only a matter of time before most jobs involve some form of AI interaction, so it's important for us to learn how to work in harmony with our robot coworkers.
Research has shown people make better decisions when our human cognition is augmented by machines. Some people describe this interaction as working "side-by-side" with machines, but more often than not, AI is working for us -- automating and augmenting the tasks that we don't want to do or don't have the time to do ourselves. Automation tends to remove the repetitive tasks from our day-to-day, so we humans can focus on tasks that require creativity, emotions and strategic thinking.
Working side by side among robots is inevitable, so both parties need to learn how to get along to perform optimally. While robots have the benefit of machine learning, the way robots process information is very different from how humans do, so there are things to be cognizant of as we support our robot work buddies:
Improve any external factors outside of your robot's control.
Machines are incredible at maintaining focus and efficiency but they're not so great at course correcting when things outside of their scope go awry. Bots can only do what they're programmed to do, so they're not going to understand if an external factor is making them perform their function incorrectly. A great example of this is if you've ever had an awkward conversation with a chatbot, or when Tay, Microsoft's infamous Twitter bot, quickly picked up on hate speech.
This is where humans need to step in. We can make accommodations that support our robot coworker's automated functions. For instance, if your chatbot is off-brand or saying things that are irrelevant, you can adjust the messaging of your chatbot. Another example is Zendesk's own Answer Bot that automatically directs customers to help articles. If the articles the bot is directing customers to are old and outdated, they won't be much help to anyone and the Answer Bot can't effectively do its job. Help out your bot buddy by looking at the external factors that will improve their functionality.
Provide backup for your robot.
Sometimes there's just no replacing human ingenuity. A clear shortcoming of artificial intelligence is that they're not so great at picking up on social cues. This can be consequential if left unsupervised. If a customer had a poor experience with a chatbot, the repercussions could lead to a dehumanization of the brand or, even worse, customer churn. Gartner predicted that around 72 percent of customer interactions will be handled by robots by 2022, so this could actually become an exponential issue.
Know when to take over for your robot coworker if a customer is becoming increasingly frustrated or if a process is yielding inaccurate results. This can also be a good opportunity to review your organization's AI capabilities and how they stack up to your business needs.
A successful company = a successful robot.
At the end of the day, machines are only successful when they make those around them successful, so an evaluation of your own organization's efficiency can provide insight into how well your new robot employees are doing. You may find your business isn't quite ready for AI, and that's okay! Those discoveries are the ones that can lead to constructive adjustments. Luckily, our emotionless coworkers are fabulous at taking any criticism we need to throw their way without becoming disheartened, meaning these machines can take on critiques and still carry out their primary functions.
All of these best practices are important to keep in mind as we start to work side by side among robots. Who knows? They could end up being the best coworkers we've ever had -- aside from the inability to partake in office happy hours.