Category Archives: AI

The challenge of AI in the office

The evolution of technology has always had profound effects on how business is done. The integration of AI into office software is no exception. As we inch closer to a future where AI becomes a dominant force in our work environment there are consequences good and bad which will undoubtedly emerge. Here are some early thoughts:

The Development of Online Meetings

The convenience of online meetings is undeniable, and the integration of AI only amplifies their advantages. With features such as real-time transcription, automatic summaries, and the creation of meeting notes and action items, AI tools are making online discussions more productive and accessible. It may well be that attending online, now mostly seen as the inferior option, actually become preferable as they new capabilities add real and attractive functionality. The challenge for those whose businesses who want an effective blend of in-person and online meetings will be replicate those benefits in the meeting room as well over the Internet.

The Need for Speed vs. Quality of Decision Making

Integrating AI into office tools speeds up various processes: information is sorted, processed, and presented faster than ever. This can lead businesses to make decisions quicker, riding on the momentum that technology provides.
However, with this increased pace, there’s a danger of reduced reflection time, making decisions which have not been given ample consideration more likely. This will almost certainly lead to poorer outcomes. And the ease with which AI can process and present data might push organisations to act impulsively, with unpredictable, and probably undesirable, results.

Spurious Professionalism

The use of sophisticated AI tools can lend a, perhaps unwarranted, aura of professionalism to presentations and decisions and there’s a real risk that flawed logic or inaccurate data might be glossed over simply because it’s presented in a polished, AI-enhanced manner. We are already biased to see form winning out over content and this is likely to get worse, quickly.
A tool is only as good as its user, and even the most advanced AI can’t make up for a lack of proper review or critical thinking. Relying heavily on AI-driven tools without thorough human oversight can lead to a kind of spurious professionalism—where things look impeccable on the surface but are fundamentally flawed underneath.

In Conclusion…

As AI continues to integrate with office software, businesses will be presented with huge opportunities to improve efficiency and functionality. And competitive pressure will ensure they feel a strong desire to do so. How much real benefit businesses get will depend on thoughtful integration and proper oversight.

The answer to post-industrialisation

It’s not hard to see the effects of post-industrialisation in Britain. Today’s Observer carried a vivid account of its effects in Ebbw Vale, a once-thriving steel town.

And there are some sensible suggestions about how to deal with the aftermath, as well as the next wave of de-employment which will soon be upon us, brought about by the increasing use of robots and AI. As the article quotes:

“Automation is a risk to many occupations across Wales and the UK,” says Professor Julie Lydon, chair of Universities Wales who recently wrote an article entitled The Robots are Coming.

The key to avoiding a repeat of the devastation caused when the mines and factories shut is investment in skills, according to Lydon.”

So his solution, common to many, is to “focus on developing skills which are with you for life, and make you more adaptable and employable through your career.” This is easier said than done. He says it will mean “building on existing collaboration between universities, employers and colleges, and finding new ways to provide these skills, such as through degree apprenticeships.” This is all good stuff, and the right thing to be doing now, slightly ahead of the automation drive to come. But as automation pushes further and deeper into the economy, it won’t be enough.

This approach doesn’t address the longer-term. It’s hard to see many jobs which won’t be capable of automation in the future. And if we continue simply to focus on “jobs” as if this is a synonym for a fulfilled life, we will be attempting to solve the short-term problem while leaving the much larger challenge completely unaddressed.

We need to start teaching our children to develop meaningful lives with or without “jobs”, or we may find ourselves slipping into a world where we try to out-compete automation at any cost in a quest to hang onto the “jobs”, a losing battle and one which will cost dear.