1.2 Artificial Intelligence at the heart of Augmented Worker solutions
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE OPENS NEW PERSPECTIVES FOR THE AUGMENTED WORKER
Since the invention and generalization of personal computers, or the robotization of most of our industries, men and women in companies have been supported by technological tools that have no other vocation than to increase their productivity. So what justifies today to talk again about Augmented Worker? What is changing?
What is changing the game is the rebirth of Artificial Intelligence in the 2000s and especially the progressive deployment of AI solutions in almost all industries. Artificial Intelligence is the technological brick that makes possible a real collaboration between Human and Machine. AI allows to fluidify Human-Machine interactions, by interpreting structured or unstructured data from sensors (cameras, microphones, accelerometers, GPS, etc.) and by sending back synthetic or simplified data through effectors (screen, speakers, motor brains, etc.).
Artificial Intelligence allows the creation of learning loops between Man and Machine to improve processing algorithms and enhance the work of Man.
Does the implementation of AI-based technologies help workers to be faster in the execution of their tasks? This benefit has been demonstrated by numerous studies including the one of James Wilson and Paul Daugherty. In their study, they indicate that the implementation of Artificial Intelligence makes it possible to improve the speed of human work but also its capacity for quantitative analysis (Wilson & Daugherty, 2018).
Artificial Intelligence: "The construction of computer programs that engage in tasks that are, for the time being, more satisfactorily performed by human beings because they require high-level mental processes such as: perceptual learning, memory organization and critical reasoning"
THE EFFECTIVE MAN-MACHINE COLLABORATION: THE EXAMPLE OF THE CHATBOT OF A LEGAL DEPARTMENT
We can take the example of the legal department of a large CAC 40 company who wants to help its legal department respond more quickly to questions from operational staff. After building up a knowledge base, a legal chatbot is made available to operational staff in order to answer recurring questions almost instantaneously. Questions for which the chatbot does not have the answer are redirected to a legal expert for a quick answer. This answer is integrated into the chatbot’s knowledge base to improve its performance. Finally, this chatbot can be used by another lawyer in order to acquire knowledge on a specific topic.
The gain for the “internal clients” of the legal department is obvious, they have at their disposal 24 hours a day an expert able to answer 80% of the legal questions they have. As the answers proposed by the chatbot have been written and validated by experts, the quality of the information is much better than they could expect before the use of this new tool. On the other hand, the company’s legal experts no longer have to spend hours answering the recurring questions asked daily by operational staff. They are freed from a time-consuming and low value-added task. They can now use this time to exploit or deepen their expertise on subjects with higher added value. This solution of Augmented Worker also allows to reduce the overload of work for lawyers in a legislative environment in perpetual inflation.
This example clearly shows the collaboration between Man and Machine, each contributing to the development or improvement of the other.
THE AI MUST ADAPT TO THE NEEDS OF WORKERS IN THE FIELD
The blue-collar workers were the first to undergo the effects of the Augmentation. Taylorism and Fordism led to the specialization of tasks to improve productivity, paving the way for the automation of tasks with high-performing but not very adaptive tools. Humans persisted where adaptability was still necessary to face the diversity of the situations encountered. When an incident occurs on an automated assembly line, it is a human who intervenes because, by definition, an incident is an unexpected situation that the machine is powerless to deal with. AI is a path to equip machines with the ability to adapt.
This inability to operate in an uncontrolled environment has distanced Augmented Worker solutions from certain areas for a time. Construction sites are a prime example of this, where the human remains for the moment much more efficient. The worker’s hand has been augmented by tools that remain very rustic in their function: cutting, drilling, measuring, sanding. Recently, means of increasing the physical carrying capacity have appeared in the form of exoskeletons, but they remain dependent on the human carrying them and are only a complement to wheelbarrows, hoists and levers.
To invest all fields of the economy, Artificial Intelligence must get out of the offices in order to Augment the employees in all the places where they work. This is made possible by the large number of connected objects that we have seen emerging in recent years. All these connected devices allow AI to get popularized and to serve us in the real world. These connected devices can be seen as the sensors and effectors that allow the AI to connect to our physical world.