We needn’t be scared of automation and the digital age.
Rather than worrying that technology will replace us, we need to shift the conversation to how AI and robotics can make us even more human. The emergence of industry 5.0 will be integral to this.
While a lot of organisations might feel they’re chasing their tail to come to terms with Industry 4.0 – which includes the emergence of AI and the Internet of Things – it’s time we thought even more long-term. Industry 5.0 is about how we get all new and emerging systems to work better for humanity.
Let’s move beyond the smartphone and smart home and think about smart workplaces, suburbs and cities.
Using sensors to make smarter workplaces is an example of how we’re already making Industry 5.0 a reality. They measure how people move around in an office space; how long they spend in quiet spaces; whether they’re sitting or standing; and which desk spaces they’re utilising. This kind of information allows us to build workplaces around how humans behave, rather than forcing our behaviour to be dictated by how workplaces are built. Such technology has also already been proven to minimise workplace injuries.
There’s no reason, other than cost, not to take something like this on. And money can’t be the only reason you don’t do something. I think we’re at a tipping point and this type of technology will be seen in most workplaces in two years’ time.
Connect over the latest research and hear more from Dr Catherine Ball at AHRI’s Technology Conference this September at the National Convention and Exhibition in Brisbane. Registration closes this Friday, 6 September.
Potential retention tool
HR teams should reconsider how they think about AI and move away from a replacement mentality to a retrain-and-retain mentality.
The first wave of jobs to be affected by automation will be those often referred to as ‘low-skill jobs’. They aren’t valued as highly as C-suite executives or money makers and include jobs like receptionist or administrative staff.
These staff (usually women) have the necessary soft-skills to be successfully retrained – they have EQ, people skills and raw intelligence. These aren’t things you gain a qualification in, yet people who have them are perfect candidates for cybersecurity roles.
To fire your admin employee and hire someone in cybersecurity costs about $150,000. To retrain someone in cybersecurity, it will cost around $25,000. It’s a fallacy that all cybersecurity professionals need to know how to code, a lot of it is about human psychology. And who’s good at human psychology and following processes? Those in the frontline, client-facing roles in your organisation. There’s a real opportunity here for HR.
It takes a village
With so much of the internet and our new technologies being developed by white men in Silicon Valley, it’s more important than ever for diversity of thought to be included in the creation and implementation of new technologies. Without it, we’re left with products that only cater to a certain section of society. Any model, any system, any process is only as good as the people who are writing it and the data that is going into it.
“And who’s good at human psychology and following processes? Those in the frontline, client-facing roles in your organisation. There’s a real opportunity here for HR.”
Apple’s iPhone is a great example. When they released the health app, they included a function to count your steps and measure your heartbeat, but no function to track your menstrual cycle – a crucial capability for half its user-base. This happened because there was no diversity around the table when the app was developed.
There are plenty of other examples, such as the automatic soap dispenser that only recognised white hands, or Amazon’s recruitment tool which showed a bias against female candidates.
If you don’t have technology that’s representative of everyone’s thoughts and experiences, then you’re only going to end up with something that’s inferior.
As individuals, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about this new technology. HR professionals in particular should take the time to get themselves up to speed on the latest developments in workplace technology. Send resources to your staff or get an expert to come into your office and run a seminar. The future of your business depends on it.
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 edition of HRM magazine.