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May AI boss you? More UAE employees comfortable working with robots

Filed on January 17, 2020 | Last updated on January 17, 2020 at 10.27 pm
At 65 per cent, the majority of UAE workers surveyed say that they are optimistic, excited and grateful about having robot co-workers.

(Reuters file)

Increasing adoption of AI at work having significant impact on office collaboration - even as managers

An unbiased approach to salary increases, promotions, and hiring are some of the reasons why artificial intelligence-enabled robots will make good managers in the workforce, a new study has discovered.

Results from the second annual AI at Work study, conducted by Oracle and Future Workplace, revealed that the use of AI is becoming more prominent, with 50 per cent of workers currently using some form of AI at work, compared to only 32 per cent last year.

At 65 per cent, the majority of workers in the study said that they are optimistic, excited and grateful about having robot co-workers, and nearly 25 per cent report having a loving and gratifying relationship with AI at work.

In addition, 64 per cent of people said that they would trust a robot more than their manager, and over half said that they have turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice.

Also, 82 per cent of workers think that robots can do things better than their managers.

When asked what robots can do better than their managers, UAE respondents said that robots are better at maintaining work schedules, problem solving, and providing unbiased information. The survey also revealed that 26 per cent of workers believe that AI will help them achieve faster promotions, while 18 per cent hoped to secure a higher salary.

However, when asked what managers can do better than robots, UAE workers said that the top three tasks were understanding their feelings, coaching them, and evaluating team performance.

Emily He, senior vice-president of of human capital management at Oracle's cloud business group, said that the results of the study signalled a clear shift in more positive attitudes towards AI.

"We have seen that the technology for AI is becoming much more affordable and that there is a clear increase in the rate of adoption of AI across the workforce; this has also lead to a change in the way many workers perceive AI. Before, a vast majority were worried about the loss of jobs that would result as AI is adopted into the workplace, but now there is a clearer understanding that many new jobs will be created and a lot of the repetitive time consuming tasks will be taken over by AI," she added.

When asked what new opportunities they think will be created through using AI, 43 per cent of UAE respondents chose learning new skills. This was followed by 38 per cent, who pointed to opportunities to expand their role to be more strategic. In addition, 39 per cent of UAE workers also noted that they would be left with a lot more time to pursue other interests.

Dr Scott Nowson, AI lead at PwC Middle East, stressed that AI is the future of work.

"We just need to be prepared and be responsible about it," he said. "There is a lot of negative press about AI 'taking jobs' and PwC research shows that people are genuinely worried. Yes, AI is automating some aspects of work. In sectors where this will impact a lot of people, we need to look beyond just cost savings and make sure we have practices and policies in place to secure the future of employees. On the other hand, many applications of AI are designed to augment humans; technologies to enhance and extend our capabilities for the better."

Similarly, Abdulla Belhoul, chief commercial officer of Tecom Group, said that AI is a critical technology with the potential to transform the public and private sector, strengthen the economy, and revolutionise the future of work.

"With ready and scalable digital and physical infrastructure, the UAE has an AI-powered economy that is flourishing in our business communities. Technology giants in Dubai Internet City are collaborating with the public and private sector to build a smarter, data-centric city. Several manufacturers in Dubai Industrial City have deployed AI and machine learning to boost efficiency, profitability and productivity," Belhoul said.

"At Dubai Science Park, AI systems are supporting our business partners in saving lives by detecting critical health issues. This would not be possible without the agile business environment that Dubai provides, and the ecosystems that enable businesses to innovate and thrive, where ease of doing business is a top priority," he added.

- rohma@khaleejtimes.com

author

Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.


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