Why AI Needs Human Help

Smart organizations are already finding ways to blend human and robotic workforces together; the latest Korn Ferry white paper.




Depending on the day, very intelligent people say that artificial intelligence (AI) will help solve the world’s “hard” problemseliminate millions of jobsend information overload, or become an existential threat to the human race. Russian President Vladimir Putin joined the AI debate recently by saying that whoever becomes the leader in AI will rule the world.

But whoever rules the world, those robots, it turns out, will need a lot of help, and savvy organizations are jumping on the concept of AI-human partnerships, according to a new Korn Ferry report. "AI needs humans, and those humans need AI-appropriate skills,” says Bob Concannon, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s CIO/Information Officer practice.

In “Artificial Intelligence: Competitor or Partner?” Concannon interviewed several prominent technology executives developing or using AI. Each of the executives recognizes how AI, much like prior technological advances, likely will cause job losses. But they say that AI’s ultimate benefit will be to make humans more productive. One executive, Chris Bedi, CIO at cloud-computing technology provider ServiceNow, says he tells his staff that every project should have an AI component. 

But, according to the report, AI won’t reach its full potential without experts and leaders who have the skills to develop, refine, and train AI systems. That first means having a senior leadership team up to speed on how to use AI. Then an organization has to find the talent that can execute AI-infused projects.That means recruiting or developing data scientists who can work with very diverse systems, such as customer relations software or resource planning tools.

Hiring experienced talent is hard and expensive, so expect a major investment in time for training and mentoring, Experion Chief Information Officer Barry Libenson says in the report. The good news is that the technology itself will attract young talent.

Finally, companies need to develop a culture of humans working alongside machines. Concannon says that people have their fears about being displaced by machines respected and, ultimately, allayed. “In the long run, humans will increasingly be working alongside machines in a collaborative setting, from the C-suite on down,” he says.

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