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How AI will transform our work

Artificial intelligence will free us from the mundane, but how still depends on us

This piece was specially written for the Tony Robbins blog by technology entrepreneur and artificial intelligence expert, Ben Lamm. 

It’s difficult today to remember a time when we didn’t have the world’s information at our fingertips. It’s even difficult to recall what it was like for us not to be always “connected.”

We’ve all felt like the pace of our lives has increased, and that there is so much information coming at us at all times that we can hardly keep up and process it all. On the other hand, the amount that we get done in our lives today would have been inconceivable half a century ago.

That gap in how stressed we feel and the actually productivity we now achieve is a psychological reality for many of us. We accomplish so much, yet feel drained in just keeping up. We feel like we’re just running as parts of a huge machine.

This is where Artificial Intelligence and automation comes in.

There is a lot of debate right now about the impact AI will have on our lives. Many fear that jobs will be lost to machines and automation. Some fears are more existential, that AI will become some kind of super-intelligence that threatens mankind. And then there is the other extreme of the arguments that see AI as enabling some kind of utopian vision where we lead lives of leisure and creativity while machines do all the work.

All of these reactions are ridiculous.

To be clear, automation will most certainly have an impact on jobs, just as it has always had for the past century. Some industries and production will become fully automated, while others will be greatly enhanced with new AI capabilities that are able to analyze information in ways we could have never even conceived before.

But I would argue that the real value of AI is actually much more mundane, and more important, than the inevitable adjustments we’ll need to make to these macro-automation trends. AI will help us manage our lives and work in a way that allows us to once more look up, look around, and be better humans.

Consider the effect on one area of our lives that has already become greatly automated: customer service. Today we call or chat with a bot that can often direct us to fixes and solutions much more quickly than waiting to talk with a human agent. In most cases, what we need done doesn’t require a human – it just requires an action or information. The human agent actually gets in the way.

This is true in business as well, and many organizations that are deploying AI internally are realizing the value to their employees. Companies have literal tomes of protocols and information for employees that are nearly insurmountable when you’re trying to find information what you need, especially when that information is time sensitive. Likewise, updating those corporate manuals is excruciating. The entire function of internal communications is cumbersome and inefficient. AI that is specifically trained to know this information can deliver answers for employees with more accuracy, more speed, and even more discretion than any human.

There is of course strategic value that AI will bring to business, helping us recognize patterns and anticipate trends. But AI will provide the most value in the day-to-day work that most of us experience, especially in automating specific repetitive tasks and helping us find the information we need when we need it. We can’t imagine operating today where we don’t have information at our fingertips, yet imagine how much more effective we can be when that information is so much easier to find, or even anticipated for us.

Even today’s fairly standard automated systems have already had a major impact in saving us time, allowing us to cut through hassles, and to solve problems more quickly than ever before. Our tools still haven’t quite caught up to the amount of information that is flooding our lives, but they are advancing rapidly. AI is chief among these technologies, and soon it will be able to manage many aspects of our digital lives, like scheduling, ordering, servicing and organizing. These are tasks that currently consume our time and work, and that leave us feeling like we are doing so much, but getting nothing done.

The kicker, though, is that these technologies won’t deliver us from everything plaguing our work lives. These technologies won’t solve all our problems. They are just tools that can make our lives much easier, but where we put our focus after that is up to us as humans. AI can potentially free us up from the mundane to be more creative in our lives, but AI won’t make us more creative. That takes work and dedication on our end.

AI offers unprecedented opportunity to rethink how we work, how we live, and what we value. But that thinking will need to be done by us, because as “smart” as Artificial Intelligence will be, it’s still up to us what we do with it.

About the author
Ben Lamm is a serial technology entrepreneur dedicated to making the impossible possible. He builds intelligent, disruptive software companies that help the Fortune 500 innovate with breakthrough technologies. Ben is the co-founder, Executive Chairman, and CEO of Hypergiant, the office of machine intelligence, and the co-founder and CEO of Conversable, the leading conversational intelligence platform. Previously, he was the founder and CEO of Chaotic Moon Studios, the global creative technology powerhouse acquired by Accenture and Team Chaos, acquired by Zynga.

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