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20 August 2019

Why AI Can Never Replace a Good Employee

Estimated reading time Time 4 to read

We live in a world filled with technology that makes our lives easier every day. Drones deliver our packages, chatbots answer our questions online, and safety detection in vehicles help keep us safe. However, this era of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics comes at a price: large portions of the workforce are afraid they will lose their jobs because of advancing technology.

And while some positions do lend themselves to automation, not every role falls into this category. When it comes to positions that require problem-solving, leadership, and initiative, AI can never replace a valuable employee. Here are seven ways these employees bring value to businesses in ways that AI simply can’t:

1. Caring and Empathy

Today, robots can perform surgeries and therapy bots are now available to people seeking mental health assistance. However, nothing can replace the caring and empathy that a live person can extend. Caregivers, therapists, and doctors can show patients sincerity and empathy, which is something a machine can’t do—and likely won’t be able to emulate for another several years.

2. Self-Starting

Employees who take initiative and proactively look for areas of improvement are invaluable to their employers. They develop processes and train others, so the company works more efficiently and effectively. And once they master a skill, they consistently look for ways to improve processes even further. Fired-up employees are proactive and highly valuable to businesses.

Artificial intelligences could never be proactive or creative on its own. Image: Pixabay

AI may be good at processing commands and even identifying new trends or patterns, but it’s not at a point where it can find and start new tasks without some sort of prompt.

3. Creative Thinking

The human brain can take input from various outside influences to develop new, creative ideas. We can be inspired through music, poetry, art, or photography, and then channel that inspiration to develop business or product ideas. 

Companies need that kind of innovation to thrive. Creative employees help their companies to think bigger and sometimes completely out of the box. It’s in this atmosphere where new products are created, new ventures are discussed, and big growth can happen.

Creativity is one area where AI is still lacking. Machines can replicate media with greater accuracy in every subsequent iteration, but creating something new and unique is an ability humans still have a monopoly on.

4. Team Collaboration

Employees who work well with others can bring co-workers and multiple departments together to push the company toward a common goal. When employees feel the workplace is collaborative, they are more engaged—and a recent Gallup report found that teams with high employee engagement rates are 21% more profitable.

While AI programs may be receptive to direct feedback inputs, they lack the sense of human camaraderie that engenders feelings of real collaboration. So though a company might be able to run some processes without human workers, it would be hard to artificially replicate the feeling of real teamwork (and the benefits that come with it).

Collaboration, creativity and teamwork are inherent qualities of human workers. Image: pexels.

5. Role Adaptability

A good employee embraces change and adapts when it’s necessary for the good of the business. When an employee takes on work outside the scope of their position and quickly adjusts to shifting goals and assignments, that’s a huge benefit to employers, particularly in markets that change quickly and frequently.

Machines, on the other hand, are programmed for specific roles. If an industry shift requires a quick pivot in a new direction, tech often has to be deliberately redirected (or replaced) to keep up.

6. Community Contribution

Today’s businesses rely a lot on their communities—both local and online—to make money. Small businesses especially thrive in small, local towns and their homegrown wealth exchanges. Employees contribute to the local economy, which creates local jobs, helps the environment, and nurtures the community.

Robotics, machine learning, and AI cannot do this. In fact, companies that automate jobs out of existence run the risk of alienating their communities, which can lead to difficulty sustaining supply and demand.

7. Contextual Application

One of the most important factors in showing that people are more valuable than AI is that employees have real-life understanding of the business factors, situational circumstances, and other outside data that isn’t always given to the machine. Artificial intelligence is only as smart as the data it’s given; people, though, can account for things outside of data—the context of a situation.

While it is inevitable that technology will eliminate many occupations, it’s obvious that it will not take the place of every job. Creativity, ingenuity, and human nature are all things that machines cannot replicate at this time. Without input from people, AI can’t function as it’s supposed to.

There’s no doubt of AI’s impact on society: it’s making its mark, and things are changing fast. But smart tech is years away from overrunning the job market—just ask your smartphone assistant to weigh in on any subject tougher than the daily weather forecast if you need some reassurance.

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