How to navigate the future of work and embrace AI
Tom Clarke, Associate, Employment
Artificial intelligence (AI) is simultaneously one of the most exciting and misunderstood technological developments in recent times. Employers and employees alike are starting to see how AI can boost productivity, efficiency, and innovation and a recent survey found that 4 million UK workers are already using AI for work purposes. However, with an increasing number of free-to-use AI platforms and in the absence of existing regulation, AI can also pose numerous challenges to businesses. In this article, we'll explore the potential benefits and the issues you should be aware of when considering the impact of AI in your workplace.
Potential benefits of AI in the workplace
AI is no longer just science fiction; it is already changing the way we work. Just some of the common uses of AI in the workplace include:
- Automation: AI can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, reducing human error and freeing up employees to focus on more strategic and value-added work that only human beings can do, leading to higher productivity.
- Data Analysis: AI systems can process vast amounts of data quickly and accurately, enabling businesses to make informed decisions based on real-time insights. This can be invaluable in areas like customer service, marketing, and product development.
- Improved Customer Service: Chatbots and virtual assistants powered by AI can provide 24/7 support, enhancing customer service and response times.
- Enhanced Hiring Process: AI-driven tools can help streamline the hiring process, from identifying top candidates to onboarding and training.
Potential issues to be aware of
Of course, with the rate of technological advancement in this area, it can be difficult for employers to keep up with developments. Indeed some employers are not aware that their employees are already using AI platforms to help them perform their daily tasks. Despite the potential benefits of AI, employers should still be aware of the following potential challenges:
- Privacy Concerns: With AI's ability to collect and analyse data, there are confidentiality concerns to consider. For example, employees inputting personal data may breach data protection legislation and there have already been examples of employees inputting sensitive commercial information as part of an AI prompt without realising the risk to the employer. Once information is inputted into AI, it is no longer within the user’s control. It's crucial for employers to establish clear policies and practices to safeguard sensitive information.
- Bias and Fairness: AI algorithms can inherit biases present in historical data, potentially leading to unfair treatment of certain groups. For example, in the US, Amazon had to stop using an AI system for recruitment as it had developed a bias towards male candidates due to pre-existing recruitment data that showed a historical gender bias. Organisations should regularly audit and correct AI algorithms to mitigate the risk of bias.
- Hallucinations: in very simple terms, AI uses information on the internet to predict the answer to the prompt it has been given. This can mean that in some cases the information AI provides will be inaccurate; referred to as “hallucinations”. All responses from AI should be rigorously cross-checked and critically reviewed.
- Copyright: Given the way AI works, it’s response to certain prompts may involve copying copyrighted works such as literary works or articles, or artistic works. Again, it is important to carefully review what AI produces to avoid unwitting copyright breaches.
Artificial Intelligence is a game-changer in the modern workplace. While it offers numerous benefits, employers must consider how their employees are using AI in the workplace and the potential risk areas. Employers should put in place a workplace policy to clearly dictate the parameters and rules for use of AI at work. Consideration should also be given to other policies relating to IT and communications, data protection and equality and diversity to ensure such policies appropriately deal with AI developments.
The Employment Team at Hay & Kilner have been preparing bespoke AI policies for a range of organisations and are on hand to help your business effectively manage the use of AI. Get in touch with Tom to find out how he can help you.