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商业 - 科技

人工智能也许会拯救你的工作

人工智能和自动化并不会导致大量岗位流失,原因有两个。

沃尔玛上个月宣布,正在部署数千台机器人“智能助手”,引发了人们对人工智能和自动化会影响美国劳动力就业的又一轮担忧。作为美国最大的雇主,沃尔玛表示,到明年2月,预计将在近2000家门店安装自动拖地机,此外还将投放少量机器人用于库存扫描。

大量公司大手笔投资人工智能和自动化让很多行业的员工都开始怀疑,自己的岗位是不是下一批被取代的。答案是不太可能,有以下两个原因。

首先,工作岗位不会消失;它们只不过是会发展成为以客户为中心的岗位。“我们的员工立刻就认识到,新技术让他们有机会得到解放,毋需再继续从事重复性强、可预测的体力劳动。”沃尔玛的中央运营高级副总裁说,“因此,他们有时间专注于销售商品、服务客户,公司员工告诉我们说这一直是零售业中最让人兴奋的工作。”

人工智能技术其实已经在销售界得到了成功应用。通常情况下,销售代表要花更多时间研究客户而不是签下订单。现在,人工智能可以为销售代表提供支持,帮助他们了解应当将时间主要集中在什么地方才能完成销售任务。算法可以整理客户的历史信息、社交媒体发帖以及客户互动历史,根据他们成功签下订单的可能性对收集到的线索进行排名,从而帮助销售团队增加收入。销售代表签下的订单越多,他们的工作就越有保障。

这也引出了我们无需因为人工智能恐慌的第二个原因:从根本上说,人工智能和机器学习是有利的,历史已经证明了这或许可以提高对工作岗位的保障。还记得第一台自动取款机吗?当时世界各地的银行出纳员都做好了最坏的打算。但因为自动取款机最大限度地降低了运营成本,反而让银行能够开设更多的分支机构,因此,从1970年到2010年,银行出纳员的就业人数从30万增加到60万,大致翻了一番。同样的,当年的白领也担心等到计算机成为办公室的标配装备时,自己会失业。现在,大多数人都可以轻松使用各类电子技术,高效工作。

埃森哲的一份报告称,信息通信、制造业和金融服务业会成为因为引入人工智能实现最多经济增长的行业,这主要得益于人为错误的减少,这类错误在基础财务报告和查询等日常重复性工作中较为常见。

尽管如此,企业员工对人工智能的担忧是真实存在的,不可忽视。公司应该开诚布公地沟通一下人工智能和自动化会对企业就业产生的影响,提前赢得员工队伍的信任。提升员工技能也很重要。例如,辉瑞正在与Concerto HealthAI合作,帮助完善(而不是取代)研究人员的研究设计,以便加快试验速度。

也许已故的微软联合创始人保罗·艾伦说得最好:“人工智能和计算机科学带来的好处通常远远超过它可能对某些工作岗位产生的影响。同样,虽然飞机的发明对铁路行业产生了负面影响,但它为人类进步打开了一扇更宽敞的大门。”

也许现在社会上破坏力最大的不是人工智能,而是我们对未知的集体恐惧?通过拥抱人工智能提供的无限可能性,我们可能会发现,虽然工作岗位的范围和性质发生了变化,但个人的职业比以往任何时候都更有保障,也更有成就感。(财富中文网)

穆尼尔·曼德维瓦拉是坦普尔大学商业和信息技术研究所的副教授和执行主任。 尼拉杰·帕特尔是DMI公司的人工智能总经理。

译者:Agatha

Walmart’s announcement last month that it’s deploying thousands of robot “smart assistants” ignited fresh employment fears about the effect of artificial intelligence and automation on the American workforce. According to the largest U.S. employer, by February of next year Walmart expects to install autonomous floor scrubbers in nearly 2,000 stores, in addition to a smaller number of robots that scan inventory.

Widespread corporate investments in A.I. and automation have employees in many industries wondering, Will my job be the next to go? Here are two reasons that’s not likely.

First, jobs will not disappear; instead, they’ll evolve into more customer-focused positions. “Our associates immediately understood the opportunity for the new technology to free them up from focusing on tasks that are repeatable, predictable, and manual,” says Walmart’s senior vice president of central operations. “It allows them time to focus more on selling merchandise and serving customers, which they tell us have always been the most exciting parts of working in retail.”

A.I. technologies are already being used successfully in the sales world. The typical sales representative has classically spent much more time researching clients than actually closing deals. Now, A.I. is supporting representatives, helping them know where to focus their time to meet their quotas. Algorithms compile historical client information, along with social media posts and customer interaction history, to rank leads in the pipeline according to their chances of being closed successfully, and therefore help sales teams increase their revenue. The more deals sales reps close, the more secure their jobs become.

This leads us to the second reason not to panic over A.I.’s effect on the nature of work: A.I. and machine learning are good for the bottom line, and history shows that might improve job security in the workforce. Remember the first ATMs? Bank tellers everywhere prepared for the worst. But by minimizing operating costs, ATMs actually empowered banks to open more branches, which roughly doubled the employment of bank tellers from 300,000 to 600,000 between 1970 and 2010. Similarly, employees also feared a loss of jobs when computers became commonplace in the standard office environment. Now, most folks work hand-in-hand with digital technologies comfortably and productively.

Information and communication, manufacturing, and financial services will top the list of industries to gain economic growth as a result of A.I., thanks to a reduction in human error that tends to be found in routine and repetitive tasks, including basic financial reports and inquiries, according to a report from Accenture.

All of this said, employee anxieties over A.I. are real and cannot be ignored. Corporations should get a headstart on winning trust within their ranks through open communication about how the implementation of A.I. and automation will affect their workforces. Augmenting employees’ skills will also prove critical. For example, Pfizer is working with Concerto HealthAI to help refine (as opposed to replace) researchers’ study designs so that trials can be completed more quickly.

Perhaps the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said it best: “The promise of artificial intelligence and computer science generally vastly outweighs the impact it could have on some jobs. In the same way that while the invention of the airplane negatively affected the railroad industry, it opened a much wider door to human progress.”

Perhaps what’s causing the most disruption within our society right now isn’t A.I., but our collective fear of the unknown? By embracing the endless possibilities A.I. has to offer, we just might find that what emerge are careers that, though altered in scope and nature, are more secure and personally fulfilling than ever before.

Munir Mandviwalla is an associate professor and the executive director of the Institute for Business and Information Technology at Temple University. Niraj Patel is the managing director of artificial intelligence at DMI.

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