A relationship for the future?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly in use and the HR sector can also benefit from it. However, it is important to understand in which areas AI is useful and where human intelligence is more useful.
Have you been in contact with artificial intelligence (AI) today? No? Are you sure? Because for users it’s impossible to know whether AI is hiding behind a user interface or not. Firstly, AI stays in the background hiding behind chatbots, search engines, voice assistants and smartphones. For example, have you asked Siri anything today? AI. Have you taken a selfie with your smartphone? And did it recognise you? AI.
Secondly, there is often simply not a lot of knowledge about what AI actually is. People think of horror stories of computers coming to life to take over the world. “AI... could spell the end of the human race” - quotes like this one from Stephen Hawking don’t exactly help alleviate people’s fears either. And if you google AI, suggestions include terms like ‘danger’ and ‘job killer’ rather than ‘possibilities’ and ‘opportunities’. We also have Hollywood to thank for a lot of this panic, along with plenty of ignorance.
It’s no wonder then that 80 per cent of managers say that their employees need to learn more about AI in order to feel comfortable with it.² Once employees have developed an understanding of what AI is and what it can do, they get a feel for the areas in which they can benefit from AI and make the best use of it. There are a lot of opportunities to use AI particularly in HR.
There is still not a general definition of AI, since there is also no scientific definition of the term ‘intelligence’. That does not make it easier for us to understand what AI is. Computer science aspires to automate intelligent behaviour with AI. Put simply, this means AI is fed with data and independently learns to recognise correlations and to generate output based on them. The more data the better. In theory, you could create a similar output using traditional programming. This would require you to know the logic behind this output. For example, being able to tell exactly why a recruiter chose a particular candidate. But the logic behind such decision making processes is too complex to be easily representable. This is where AI comes in.
Despite its limitations, there are many opportunities for using AI. But what exactly can you do with it? Put simply, there are three different fields of application for AI. These can work separately or together.
Based on the fields of application, HR can use AI in four different ways, depending on whether feeling and empathy or rationality and logic are more important, and whether it’s a matter of creativity and strategy or optimisation.
HR can delegate any repetitive tasks to AI. Depending on how important empathy is, HR plays a bigger or smaller part.
1 AI relieves: when empathy is not needed or emotions are even detrimental, HR can hand over the tasks to AI – for example, in the areas of employee services, document management, HR administration, as well as travel and expense management. AI supported chatbots are already the first point of contact for employees’ questions today. In document management, AI takes on the first allocation of documents and inserts certain content. And maybe AI will be able to support HR in the monitoring of salaries in the future.
2 AI frees up your time: If routine tasks require empathy, AI operates as a tool in the background. AI can support recruiters with an initial evaluation of the CV or assess a person’s character based on video data. AI could also take on the entire planning of onboarding, and an AI supported chatbot could accompany the employee during this process.
As tasks get more complex and require more creativity, it’s clearly a job for humans. AI can and will provide support in the future, but it’s not quite there yet in many cases.
3 Hand in hand:with complex matters, where the focus is on reason, AI already provides support in some cases. Especially in analytics, there are endless possibilities for using AI. AI calculates the probability of an employee leaving the company or provides support for personnel cost planning. AI can also be used when it comes to compensation. A simple system is already in use today for processing highly standardised bonus arrangements. In the future, AI might also assist with more complex processes.
4 AI provides selective support:as soon as empathy becomes more important and an issue becomes more complex, AI is used very selectively and in the background. The more important creativity and empathy are, the less important AI is. But particularly with issues like development, learning, as well as performance and goals, an AI supported chatbot can lead employees through the process and act as a sparring partner. For performance & goals or in succession planning, AI can make an initial suggestion for calibration or classification in the performance matrix or for a successor.
When so many possible uses exist and a user never knows whether AI is behind them, what do you need to consider from a legal standpoint? In Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates to some extent how AI should be handled. Experts argue how strictly it should be interpreted, but everyone agrees that Articles 13 and 14 require companies to inform users and provide details as soon as AI makes decisions that have a significant influence on the users. There are no regulations for this yet in Switzerland. Legally speaking, it makes sense to comply with the EU regulations.
¹ Stephen Hawking, Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, 2017
² IBM Research: https://www.ibm.com/smarter-workforce/ai-in-hr-myths-and-facts
³ Prof. Dr. Paul Lukowicz: https://www.kulturmanagement.net/Themen/Kuenstliche-Intelligenz-und-Kreativitaet-KI-als-Kultur-Geschaeftsfuehrer-der-Zukunft,2348
⁴ Reuters, Amazon scraps secret AU recruiting tool that showed bias against women (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-jobs-automation-insight/amazon-scraps-secret-ai-recruiting-tool-thatshowed-bias-against-women-idUSKCN1MK08G)
⁵ Kai-Fu Lee: https://www.ted.com/talks/kai_fu_lee_how_ai_can_save_our_humanity
⁶ HR Campus in Anlehnung an Kai-Fu Lee
Published: 20. June 2019