The advent of AI has led to the creation of an ‘underclass’ of society – a lower rung – whereby some are either losing jobs to AI or being mistreated and underpaid as contract workers. In the case of job losses, actors who play extras in film and TV productions – already low down in the entertainment hierarchy – are concerned they may be replaced by their digital counterparts. In some cases this has already happened. Using digital doubles of just 20 background actors, Apple filled a stadium with what looked like 26,000 people. The tech industry itself is not blameless. Some of the industry giants have employed contract workers to train AI but then exploit them in terms of pay and overtime work. Job losses in other fields are sure to ensue.
Why is it important?
We are at an inflection point. AI has the potential to put thousands out of work, or it can be used alongside humans to bolster productivity and encourage creativity. This all depends on how it is implemented. If workers are shut out of the workforce, who will step in to help feed and house them? Denying them work opportunities would also have a major impact on tax collection, which in turn would affect social services and development in a significant way. The preferable route is to find ways to allow affected workers to contribute positively to the economy. Workers in industries beyond entertainment or tech, are beginning to protest over exploitation – Uber drivers are one such example – and this is likely to continue.
What can businesses do about it?
Protecting an employee from being replaced by AI requires a proactive approach from both the business and the employee. Invest in continuous training and development programmes to enhance the skills of your employees. Emphasise learning new technologies, data analysis, problem-solving, and other high-value skills that can complement AI rather than compete with it. Encourage employees to work alongside AI systems rather than against them. Position AI as a tool that can augment their abilities and help them become more efficient and productive – AI is excellent at handling repetitive and mundane tasks. Encourage employees to focus on creativity, innovation, and strategic thinking, as these are areas where AI is currently limited. AI may excel at data analysis and decision-making, but it lacks emotional intelligence and human empathy. Train your employees in areas that require the human touch, such as customer service, relationship management, and leadership. Create a work environment that embraces change and encourages employees to adapt to new technologies and processes. Make it clear that learning and growth are valued within the organisation.
By Faeeza Khan
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