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CIO, Australia: Director at Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work Says Automation Will Increase the Value of Human Output

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is a popular topic of debate across industries worldwide,” writes Benjamin Pring. “For many, the possibility of leveraging AI is a positive way to make businesses more productive and efficient, while offering more sophisticated customer offerings. However, others view the rise of AI and automation with more caution, particularly in regards to jobs losses.” Excerpts:

“The fact is that AI will fundamentally shift the way organizations operate, from top to bottom, as well as alter the very definition of both jobs and tasks — for the better.

Australian industries are entering an era where those who do not embrace automation will be left behind. From a jobs angle, this does not mean that entire jobs and livelihoods will be wiped out, but rather, a new definition of work will be created.

At the core of automation and its business value is the realization that manual labor is not the same as knowledge-based labor, and that these two types of labor are not interchangeable.

Knowledge-based labor is different from manual labor, and as the name suggests, is significantly more complex than manual labor. When robotics and automation are used to support this type of labor or work, the underlying human knowledge assets (not what is possessed by machines) become more valuable.

Automation empowers knowledge-based work to be used in more interesting and productive ways, which will increase the value of human and robotic output, whilst avoiding the pure substitution of robot for human.

There is a fear that by embracing automation, businesses will be cutting jobs. What instead needs to be recognized is that tasks and jobs are different, and are not synonymous with each other. Industries will be disrupted without a doubt, but this because tasks will be automated — not jobs.

Separating the two is of crucial importance. Jobs are made up of many tasks. That means people will not lose their jobs or livelihood, but rather their jobs will become easier, what with the automation of repetitive tasks enabling them to spend their time at work more efficiently. Furthermore, machines completing tedious tasks will free up time for humans to complete more challenging, creative, and human-centric tasks.

Upskilling and retraining will be essential as automation becomes part of the Australian workforce to truly integrate technology into processes, as opposed to completely replacing entire workforces with robots.”

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