Worries that robots may end up replacing human workers have lately sparked debates over the role of artificial intelligence in corporate jobs.
During a Fortune conference that tackled the subject and its various implications, voices from IBM and Google proceeded to dissipate concerns and state there's no need for alarm.
Present at the Most Powerful Women International Summit in Hong Kong on March 2, women leaders of the two tech companies reassured the public that there's no need to worry about an A.I. takeover, as the technology is here to help and could significantly improve the activity of firms.
According to Vanitha Narayanan, chairman of IBM India, the first corporate sector to gain the most from this technology would be that of service-oriented companies. Just like what her boss, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, previously explained at the World Economic Forum, Narayanan reaffirmed the idea of a partnership between humans and machine.
Robots Could Allow Human Focus On High-Value Tasks
By offering the example of IBM's Watson supercomputer, Narayanan made the case for supplementing human workforce with A.I., with emphasis on the collaboration between the two.
"The average call center rep cannot handle 50 products. So they're using Watson in their call center — not to replace the call center rep," said Narayanan.
At the same time, Leonie Valentine, sales and operations managing director at Google Hong Kong, found a poetic analogy for the use of artificial intelligence, comparing it to a "murmuration" — a flock of starlings that swoop to the skies "without any kind of preprogrammed system." In her opinion, this is "what the future of organization will look like."
AI Makes Way For 'Human Intelligence'
Valentine also argued that supplementing human workers with intelligent robots could ease the humans' workload, facilitating task management, and speeding up the work process. Turning to A.I. will, by no means, eliminate jobs but instead create the opportunity for service improvement.
In turn, this will allow companies to "finally get to the place that's been Nirvana for the last 20 or 30 years in corporations."
This point in organizational growth is about moving human employees over to "high-value" tasks, she said.
It's about incorporating the critical thinking and decisiveness that only humans are capable of.
For Valentine, the shift will rely on "value-based judgments and real-time decision-making and a human touch."