Directly CEO Forecasts Vision Of Tomorrow With Humans and AI Working Side-By-Side
The AI revolution has arrived. And although the technology is still in its infancy, it promises to radically transform the global economy—impacting human lives, culture, and politics in ways that we can scarcely imagine. A recent article by Forbes Technology Council member Christian Pedersen argued that artificial intelligence will create new opportunities for data scientists, researchers, analysts, and other highly educated technical specialists even as the more easily-automated job functions of low skill workers “fall to the wayside.”
Pedersen’s argument is correct on both counts, but the AI economy is also dependent upon one more ingredient: subject-matter expertise. Participation in the burgeoning AI economy doesn’t require an advanced degree in data science or fluency in the latest programming languages. In fact, many of today’s workers already have the sort of invaluable subject matter expertise that will be essential to helping AI become more sophisticated, efficient, and useful in the
years to come. The future of industry will not be one in which humans are replaced by AI, but rather one in which humans and AI work together. That’s because, as it turns out, AI isn’t all that smart without us humans.
AI designed for simple tasks like image recognition can be trained on data alone, but AI assigned to more specialized tasks needs input from human experts. Post-doctoral researchers, data scientists, and other AI specialists may be brilliant people with diverse skill sets, but rarely do they have insight into the nuances of product design, the delicacies of customer service, or the subtleties of concierge hospitality. A computer programmer can create AI capable of performing the most general tasks—answering a customer inquiry or checking in a hotel guest, for example—but only the knowledge and experience of subject-matter experts can help virtual agents become truly useful and effective.
Humanity’s New Partners
The workers of today can easily become the AI trainers of tomorrow, leveraging years of hard-won expertise to help AI achieve its full potential. This is not a far-flung hypothetical — there are already businesses (LinkedIn, Kixeye, and Nextdoor to name a few) implementing AI platforms that use non-technical experts for exactly this kind of work. These aren’t “one-and-done” engagements, with corporate AI agents consuming expert knowledge and discarding the humans behind that knowledge once they’ve outgrown their usefulness. The world is not static. As businesses grow, change, and introduce new products, their AI needs continuous training and improvement to keep up with the latest developments.
AI will transform the global economy and its workforce in profound ways, but it has the potential to be both a creative force and a destructive one. Businesses and policymakers must take an active role in ensuring that there is a place for the workers of today in the AI economy of tomorrow. This means steering businesses to help their workers understand the value of their expertise, and creating programs that will allow them to further develop and refine that expertise. It also means creating systems of royalties and residuals that will provide long-term compensation structures that reflect the enduring value of experts’ contributions.
The truth is that AI cannot reach its full potential by working alone, and neither can we. Both humans and AI possess abilities that the other can augment, as well as limitations for which the other can compensate. That’s why, as we barrel inexorably toward our AI-powered future, we must ensure that the story of AI is not a story about humans being replaced in the workforce. Instead, let’s make it a story about how we humans found our newest and greatest business partners.
Antony Brydon is CEO and co-founder of Directly, an automation platform provider.