AI does not replace jobs, technology augments human capabilities


July 30, 2019

The fear that humans are having about their jobs snatched away by Artificial Intelligence (AI) is misplaced, according to Kalyan Kumar, Corporate Vice President and CTO, HCL Technologies, a global IT services company. The debate continues!

Rather than allowing employee concerns continue to mount, CTOs should work alongside their counterparts across the wider c-suite to start laying the groundwork for every single human employee to play a more strategic/decision-making role as part of an AI-augmented workforce. When CTOs will hear the fear of artificial intelligence (AI) replacing jobs over the next few years, their message should be such that people are stepping away from the factory floor and into the foreman’s office.

When people discuss artificial intelligence (AI), opinions are usually polarized into one of the two extreme schools of thought – those who believe that AI technology will make our lives better, and those who are convinced it will accelerate human irrelevance, leading to the loss of jobs. It is important to understand that adopting AI is not about replacing people, it is about augmenting human capabilities.

It makes them more strategic

AI technologies enable business transformation by doing the unglamorous work that humans are not quite comfortable doing — for example, processing huge amounts of data quickly, efficiently, and accurately. The relationship between humans and AI is mutually empowering.

Though industry analyst McKinsey suggests that around 30% of global working hours could be automated by 2030, AI’s part in this will be to assist current workers, who will no longer be required to undertake the more repetitive aspects of their jobs. These employees, meanwhile, will focus on work that is more strategic, or, which requires a more analytical approach. This will also require some reskilling of the existing workforce at a certain level.

This new way of working has started to reshape the job market. In fact, developing and deploying new technologies like AI is expected to generate millions of jobs globally. Going forward, this means a large number of people will either switch occupation or learn new skills to support the use of AI technology.

Ensure AI is a success: Overcoming the looming AI skills shortage

There’s a scarcity of the technical talent that’s needed to make AI work – who should be responsible for overcoming this? Is the onus on enterprises to reskill staff to take their place in the augmented workforce, should people take it upon themselves to use (Massive Open Online Courses) MOOCs to keep pace with changing demands from employers to land their next big role, or are governments and universities in a position to inject AI-related skills into the new generation?

When enterprises experiment with AI, many of them are realizing that they do not have the appropriate skills in-house to successfully implement it. New training and skills will be needed for workforces in order to adapt jobs to the new opportunities that AI presents, thereby, requiring new educators. AI technologies will require developing and maintaining new advanced systems, which will call for individuals with knowledge and experience in these new fields.

There is currently no consensus over who will take responsibility for ensuring that the current and future workforce is appropriately skilled. Enterprises, governments, academic institutions, and individuals could all be deemed responsible for managing this re-skilling.

To fill the current and future demand for AI, enterprises should create the opportunities for their current employees to upskill, allowing them to enter the new classification of workers who will oversee and manage the implementation and use of AI, with human and machine interaction. It is only with all these different groups taking responsibility that the workforce will be able to effectively develop the necessary AI skills that can drive enterprises to the next level.

This space is continuously being disrupted and leading to the reshaping of jobs. Above all, AI is a transformational force that needs channeling to ensure it benefits the larger organization and societal cause. We should all overwhelmingly adopt and participate to make best of it.

Kalyan Kumar B

Kalyan Kumar B, Corporate Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, IT Services of HCL Technologies

Kalyan Kumar B, is the Corporate Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, IT Services of HCL Technologies and the company’s Business Line Leader for Global Cloud Native Services and DRYiCE products and platforms. He also leads the Service Line for Global Infrastructure Services. As a part of his CTO portfolio, he is actively involved in Product and Technology Strategy, Partner Ecosystem, Start-up Exploration, and Incubation, and supports the inorganic initiatives of the company. He has a direct line responsibility for the Global Infrastructure Services Practice (SDDC/Digital Workplace/Next-Gen Networks/Enterprise Platforms/Autonomics, and Unified Service Management), DRYiCE Software Business Unit (AI-centric Autonomics, XaaS/SIAM Orchestration, Business Flow Intelligence, and DevOps Products & Platforms), Cloud Native Services (Consulting, Migration, Modernization, and Operations across Hybrid Cloud/Public Cloud/Cloud Native platforms/Cloud Native SaaS), and Enterprise Technology Office (Office of CTO/ Start-up Incubation/Next-Gen Ecosystems).

KK is an ambassador and mentor for next-generation leaders. He is a member of the eminent Wall Street Journal CIO Network, responsible for identifying key challenges in technology and new opportunities for innovation. As a member of HCL’s Talent Council, he is focused on encouraging and empowering young talent. In addition, he is the honorable member of the Technology Partner Advisory Boards and has participated in Special Academic Programs at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Business School. He is a regular participant in Singularity University Programs.

KK holds a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and is widely acknowledged as an expert in the fields of autonomics, service management, next-gen IT architecture, and cloud platforms. He holds two patents and has co-authored seven books in the space of service management and XaaS/Cloud Services.