Transparency 4.0- Why AI in the Workplace Will Force Us to Tell the Truth

Are we ready for AI and robotics in the workplace? First, we need to be more aware of its presence and power in general, and then we probably need a major adjustment in our natural survival instinct to shade the truth when it suits us. We may be heading into the Workplace 4.0, but we’re still thinking in terms of us and that. But that has a binary relationship to facts: either it happened or it didn’t. It’s one aspect of the transformation we need to prepare ourselves for a lot more; we’re going to have to tell the truth.

I was considering this as I self-checked out of a big box store the other day. In front of me was a man wearing a Fitbit who was busy multitasking. He was coaching his kid on his smartphone on how to use Alexa, and without paying attention, he double-scanned a bottle of milk. When the clerk came over to cancel the transaction, the man claims he didn’t swipe it twice. “The scanner says you did,” the clerk said.

While we’re nearing the functional tipping point in using AI and automation, are we ready for the honesty shift? Recently, a fitness tracker and Alexa were involved in solving murders, surely an unintended consequence — at least from a consumer standpoint. A Connecticut woman’s fitness tracker gave police the evidence that backed up their hunch about the lying husband. He said they were struggling with an intruder, but the tracker proved him wrong: it had tracked her on that fatal day walking around the house. A man in Arkansas mistakenly asked Alexa some very incriminating questions about cleaning blood off an object after committing murder in a drunken rage. Alexa doesn’t just listen; she gathers the data. And the data doesn’t forget or lie.

The point is the devices are smarter than we think. They are designed not to lie — so while we can, let’s get better at telling them the truth. This is where the workforce is going to have to adapt the most. We’re going to have to get used to being honest, or we may lose our jobs in more ways than one.

According to McKinsey Global’s recent report, some 60% of occupations and 30% of tasks could be handed over to robots. The kinds of jobs we’ll likely see automation taking over from humans will be those that entail physical tasks in structured, predictable environments — such as manufacturing, retail, hospitality, and food service as well as those involving data collection and processing. Of some 2,000 job tasks we do globally, McKinsey found that nearly half — about $16 trillion in wages worth—could be automated using technology that already exists.

That probably means that certain single-skill jobs are going to go out the virtual window. It also may mean we will finally start to appreciate the other skills we tend to have, our soft skills — our social perceptiveness, empathy, and communication. We’re need to start understanding the value of natural intelligence differently. Same as we want organic produce, we may post job descriptions that specifically require “NI” versus “AI.” But certain ways we operate will be incompatible. The more interdependent we are with cognitive machines, the more exposed we are.  AI and robotics may free us to be “more human” in our jobs, and enable us to flex our soft skills more frequently, but it’s not going to give an inch where we live.

The new workplace is going to shift the concept of transparency to reality, whether we want it to or not. And this may change our work culture in ways we don’t yet understand, forcing some interesting management approaches.

Let’s think about this. Not only do organizations need to reconsider how they design jobs, structure work, and strategize for the future, they also should have a transparency policy that understands we’re only human.

Photo Credit: jillpostema Flickr via Compfight cc

This article was first published on fowmedia.

Why Social Media Is Shaping The Future Of Work

Lists of social media disasters are like new versions of worst-dressed lists. And there’s no such thing as not being on social media. If you’re not actively pursuing your brand on social, someone else is, and probably not the way you want to be. And being the butt of a joke you never intended to make has staying power: things do not disappear on the Internet. The bottom line is that you’re a brand whether you have no control over it (bad) or you control it (good).

This isn’t just about consumers, either: it’s about your workforce. Social media has helped erase the wall between consumer and job candidate. Most candidates are well aware of a company via its messaging on social well before they consider applying for a job. So a messaging miss is a missed potential candidate, too.

So here’s a simple playbook for people and brands of all sizes to start with. First, the two most important rules: Be social. Try not to mess it up.

Here are 5 tips:

1) No canned ham please.

Impersonal content plastered onto your social media presence is like serving spam at brunch, only without the “aren’t we so Mad Men” irony. We have an 8-second attention span and that’s shorter than a goldfish’s. And we like things that are relevant to us and grab at our impatient hearts. So personalize it or it won’t count. Moreover, once you’re branded as spammy, that window of influence shuts. Potential candidate-wise, if you’re trying to pull one over on the world, you could also smokescreen employees.

2) It’s not just about Facebook.

Some people say Facebook is so 2011. Why? To share content the way we used to in 2011, we have to pay for it now. Which is, um, advertising, a.k.a. spam. Sponsored content is faux-real, as opposed to for real. It’s still relevant, but consider other platforms, such as Snapchat (100 million + reported users), Instagram (420 million), Flipboard (70 million and rising), and Whatsapp (1 billion). And of course, talent portals like LinkedIn.

3) Don’t ignore your target.

What’s your market? If it’s grownup grownups (ages 55-64) then you’d best be on Twitter, where that’s the fastest growing new age group. If it’s teens, you’d better be on Instagram. If you want to recruit Gen Y and Gen Z candidates, don’t try to do it through traditional methods. Assume you are going to reach them via smartphone and social, and message accordingly.

4) Think first.

Remember what I said about irony? Same with cleverness: along with our quick attention span is a well-honed bullshit reflex. The wall of social media shame is filled with examples of facepalm social media moves that backfired. Especially true with tweeting, such as LG’s smartphone campaign, which mocked the iPhone via tweets sent from an iPhone. Trying so hard that you fail is not a draw from potential employees. D’Oh. 

5) It’s not just about ROI.

I’ve gone over this before, but social is the future. We’re expected to have 2.5 billion social media users worldwide by 2018. And right now, 90% of adults age 18 – 29 are using social media. A solid one third of all Millennials say it’s their preferred channel for communicating with businesses. Their habits are not going to change. What’s trending now is going to be normal later. And this is where your workforce comes from. Even if you can’t quantify, dollar for dollar, or even hire for hire, what the value of social is, at some point very soon, that’s all going to be a non-issue.

Social media allows us to be more agile. Immediate. Fluid. Transparent. Honest. Candid. Also, unfiltered, thoughtless, blockheaded. But more than anything, social is the way we exist. It’s far more than just sending a tweet or posting an announcement. It’s an entire currency of thought, and it’s the future of work. #Goodluck and keep me posted please.

A version of Forbes.