3 Core trends that will shape IO Psychology. Vol. 2: Artificial Intelligence

In our last post on core trends in IO Psychology, we looked at how Big Data will continue to shape talent decision-making and the way organisations deal with complex people factors. In today’s post, number 2 of a 3-part series, we consider the case of Artificial Intelligence (AI). What is AI and how will it influence the world of IO Psychology?

What is AI?

Much like Big Data, AI is something we already interact with daily. Perhaps because of Hollywood’s depiction of intelligent, human-like robots, we don’t always recognise AI in everyday life. For instance, if you’ve ever used digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, you’ve interacted with AI. Video games commonly use AI and machine learning to enhance the enjoyment of players and to ensure that games are never the same when played twice.

If you’ve recently flown in an airliner, at least part of your journey was controlled by an AI pilot. Self-driving cars will perhaps be the most dramatic example of AI that will soon be a part of our everyday lives.

Put simply, AI is the capability of computer processors to mimic, at least in part, human thinking. Because microprocessors can calculate in parallel and do so extremely rapidly, AIs have the promise of helping us humans with tasks that our brains are not well adapted for. In narrow domains, like chess, route planning, and logistics, AIs already consistently outperform humans. In others, like driving and flying, AIs will outperform us very soon.

What can AI do for IO Psychology?

Organisations have embraced the potential of AI to enhance business processes and efficiencies. For instance, financial institutions use AI to predict and identify fraudulent transactions, manufacturing businesses employ AI to improve workflow and production planning (especially for just-in-time manufacturing), and companies like Facebook and Amazon are using AI to predict and enhance consumer experiences on their websites.

For IO professionals, the impact of AI on business processes and workforce planning seems wide-ranging and fundamental. AI will change the way we all work, and IO professionals need to be aware of how this new reality will shape their discipline.

Some potential implications:

  • Work will change. Since AI can often outperform humans in arenas like predictive analytics and routine tasks, roles that have these functions at their core might have to be reconceptualised
  • Speed will increase. AI will enhance and speed up business processes and decision-making. That makes for a more rapidly changing work environment. IO professionals are well positioned to assist businesses and individuals to adapt to the change

Next steps?

A good source of information on AI and its implications is the Singularity University as well as MIT’s AI projects page.

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