AI, Responsibility, and the Future of Work

Are We Focusing on the Right ‘R’?

Alex de Aranzeta, MA, JD
4 min readJun 14, 2024
Photo by ZHENYU LUO on Unsplash

We’ve all heard the arguments, “AI will replace our jobs!” and “Humans will soon be replaced by AI!” The World Economic Forum estimates that AI will replace about 85 million jobs by 2025, so these words of caution may become a reality in some industries. However, it’s also estimated that AI will create more jobs than it replaces in the same time frame.

So, what‘s AI got that humans don’t?

Infinite productivity

Unlike humans, AI doesn’t get burned out or need a vacation. They not only perform faster, but operate continuously. The global AI in manufacturing market alone is slated to exceed $20 billion in the next four years. This capability is invaluable for functions like automating assembly lines or rapid prototyping in manufacturing. But because AI doesn’t typically handle aberrations well, humans should remain in the loop for systems monitoring and adapting to and remedying disruptions.

Operational automation

AI can lower operational costs due to labor and employment, human error, and safety hazards. Because AI streamlines repetitive tasks well, workers can spend less time performing these tasks, which can lead to work of increased creativity and complexity. Time-savings is directly related to cost-savings.

Data processing speed

Decision-making, problem-solving and applied reasoning have long been considered higher order thinking characteristic of human beings. AI is an inadequate replacement for humans performing these tasks, despite being adept at analyzing large volumes of data rapidly and accurately. AI, coupled with human reasoning, can lead to truly data-driven and informed decisions that consider morality, ethics, and societal norms and values.

Scalable servicing capabilities

Personalization has become an expectation of customers, including enjoying a more personalized user experience. AI can be a value add for scaling personalized service by leveraging individual customer data to improve and deepen the relationship with the customer. In turn, this leads to benefits for both the customer and the company: higher engagement, satisfaction, and spend. AI-powered customer service chats or assistants can handle multiple customers simultaneously, versus consecutively. And because 64% of customers expect companies to interact with them in real time, and retention increases by 5% for every 1% increase in customer satisfaction, augmenting speed to service with AI holds enormous value for a company’s bottom line.

On the other hand, because service-based encounters are important retention levers for a company, if bias is present in AI systems, it could lead to unfair outcomes and a disruption in this service. Similarly, the nuance of emotion and empathy that is often required in human-to-human service interactions could result in less meaningful customer experiences.

Photo by Mariia Shalabaieva on Unsplash

Despite the real positive impact on the future of work, there exists genuine concerns about the potential of AI to replace work within many industries. But, are we really focusing on the right ‘R’?

Instead, we should be asking —

How can we ensure that we’re developing and deploying AI responsibly to advance our individual, societal, and economic goals?

This means keeping the following efforts in clear view:

  • Re-skilling and continuous education: Investing in education and training programs to arm workers with skills relevant to an AI-driven economy.
  • Ethical AI development: Ensuring that AI systems are designed and implemented to be trusted, with transparency, fairness, and accountability at the fore.
  • Human x AI cooperation: Focusing on augmenting human capabilities with AI rather than replacing humans, leveraging the strengths of both with humans at the helm to achieve the best outcomes.
  • Regulation, policy and practices: Developing frameworks to oversee AI in action, protect workers and job seekers, and mitigate and address adverse impacts in critical areas like employment, housing, healthcare, and finance.

By reframing the current arguments about human replacement to responsible development and management of AI systems, and prioritizing human and machine alliance and cooperation, we can navigate the transition to an AI-enhanced future in a way that safeguards civil liberties and ethics without compromising progress.

Alex de Aranzeta, MA, JD (she/her) is a linguist and lawyer by training, and former Civil Rights compliance leader and conflict res practitioner by profession. Alex is an executive coach, and advises and consults tech companies, founders, and leaders on equitable and trusted AI. She’s also the host of a responsible AI podcast, The Culture of Machines, where she speaks with founders, ethicists, and experts on the intersections of respsonsible AI, society, and culture.

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Alex de Aranzeta, MA, JD

Speaker, AI podcast host, and executive coach. Scaling strategy, storytelling, and equity in AI for the most innovative companies. https://www.alexde.com