Workplace AI: Emerging technologies, ethical questions

Workforce-focused AI offers significant upside, but short-term gains might backfire in the form of lower employee morale, higher turnover, lower productivity, and public relations backlash.

Workplace AI: Emerging technologies, ethical questions
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AI is making quick inroads into the workplace. Equally capable of whipping up informed predictions in a flash and completing specific tasks on a scale that humans can’t match, artificial intelligence is being applied to everything from business processes to analytics.

While much of the scrutiny on AI’s impact on the workplace has been focused on the kinds of jobs ripe for replacement, AI efforts aimed specifically at workforce issues, such as job candidate screening and performance evaluations, present particularly thorny questions — especially as bots begin moving into management.

True, workforce-focused AI offers significant upside, but short-term AI-fueled gains in productivity or security might backfire in the long term, with employee dissatisfaction and lower morale leading to higher turnover and, ultimately, lower productivity. Plus, AI fallout can lead to public relations issues that turn off customers, investors, and job seekers, not to mention the legal and compliance aspects of workplace privacy violations.

Following is an examination of new AI technologies that are emerging in the workplace, how they work, what their intents are, and how they might cross the line.

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