Did you ever think that in business there would be a distinction between human employees and non-human employees? Anyone who said that would be accused of insulting some of the employees or racism. However, today we are stepping into a new conjuncture. The pandemic profoundly affected business life as well as our social life. Companies have turned to options they have never considered during the usual periods of panic. Employees are as affected by this process as companies. Business life is evolving on the road to digitization, reminding of sci-fi movies.
Like Elon Musk’s Neuralink, the genius child of technology entrepreneurship, yesterday’s utopia projects approach reality with pandemic motivation. Humanity is on an irreversible path. As the interaction between the human brain and artificial intelligence (AI) increases, companies’ human resource investment will shift from employment to technology. In economic policy, however, the unemployment productivity contradiction will remain. Perhaps online companies will be looking for ways out of this crisis with digital employees. If productivity increases, and the crisis is overcome, the necessary resources for employment will be restored.
Deepfake opens up new horizons in unusual conditions
The threat of the pandemic on health and the economic crisis caused by this situation are driving business life away from the axis of the physical world and into online borders. Deepfake, a digital body-clad version of AI technologies, was the dreadful dream of the pre-pandemic, despite its feasible uses. After the unexpected global crisis, it began to open new horizons in front of humanity, especially for unusual conditions. Let’s see if deepfake technologies, in which will open the doors of a different reality by producing synthetic digital people, will also turn into hope for online companies that are in a difficult situation with the pandemic, to survive this crisis?
The pandemic; a period when financial power also cannot save
The work from home model we know as the “Home Office” used to be the mandatory option for freelancers who didn’t have an office budget, or start-ups who needed time for that matter. It has become working model for even large corporations and banks in the age of social distance. Skype, for example, also offered video meetings in the early 2000s, albeit with low bandwidth. In contrast, video conferencing was perceived as an emergency meeting option only with interlocutors in remote geographies. In the pandemic, meeting rooms in offices were replaced by online video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet. Business meetings aside, even educational and artistic activities have turned almost entirely towards video remote access for sustainability.
Immunity to digitalization also collapsed
When the new type of coronavirus pulled the handbrake of life, even economic activity suddenly stopped, albeit for a period of several months. For a return to normalization at the level before the pandemic, maturities between at least 1 year and never are discussed. In that case, the economic crisis that is happening and the chain effects of which are being tried to be delayed by extraordinary measures around the world will be waiting behind the door at any moment. In this respect, Covid-19 has also led to the collapse of the immunity that traditional and local preferences are developing against digitalization. Companies are, and will continue to be, surrendering to digitalization not only because of the pandemic, but also because of the economic obligations caused by it.
Fourth Industrial Revolution
Thanks to the Information Technology (IT) revolution, the productivity and productivity growth achieved in the United States from the second half of the 1990s completed its process and lost its influence with the advent of the Millennium. Today, the effects of AI and robotic technology, referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in the economy and society are being evaluated. In particular, the controversy over the substitution of human labor with AI and robots escalated. Meanwhile, AI technologies, from medicine to tourism, telecommunications to finance, are increasingly taking place and role in almost every sector. These developments heralded a new era before the pandemic. In the second 10 years of the 2000s, these developments were the subject of many scientific research and articles under the main title “the impact of AI and robotic business processes on employment”.
Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of the Oxford Martin School, Oxford University’s Department of Social Science Research and Policy Development published the research titled: “The Future of employment: how sensitive are jobs to computerization?” in 2013. In line with advances in machine learning and mobile robotics, the researchers calculated that about 47% of U.S. employment would undergo structural changes. Joel Mokyr, Chris Vickers and Nicholas L. Ziebarth published the article titled, ” the history of technological anxiety and the future of economic growth: is this time different?” in 2015 in the Journal of Economic Perspectives of the American Economic Association. In the article, they searched the historical lessons learned since the Industrial Revolution at the end of the century and argued that computers and robots would lead to new products and services, and that these product innovations would lead to new professions that could not be imagined.
Will Robots capture our jobs?
The basic perception was that; the dystopia “robots will one day take over the world” would begin with robots capturing jobs of humans. However, AI’s first involvement in business processes was in the form of developing and managing digital automation, creating unmanned written content or Voice Response Solutions. For employees, the visible competitors were just machines. Algorithms allowed machines to learn, but it was also human who developed these algorithms. Artificial neural networks, which already make up AI technologies, were also a kind of digital copy of the human brain, whose legendary capacity has not been discovered until now. How perfect a copy could a human being develop, who could not completely solve the secrets of his own brain? In this vicious perception, when discussing AI’s robotic competition in employment, journalists, doctors, lawyers, waiters, drivers, accountants and other professionals and their professional organizations did not take this possibility too seriously, at least for the near future.
However, in addition to the United States, like other countries leading in technology, the Japanese government has already begun initiatives to develop and disseminate AI and robotic technologies. The Robot revolution Initiative Council was formed in 2014 and published a report called The New Robot strategy, which includes a five-year action plan. Japan Revitalization Strategy 2016, the main growth strategy of the Japanese economy, placed the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the top of the growth policy agenda.
Things got messy in a week as Microsoft fired human editors
What could be more natural than the global digital transformation accelerated by the pandemic process being spearheaded by leading technology companies online? In fact, Microsoft pushed the button at the end of May and dismissed dozens of journalist employees. Because it was going to run the business with AI technology now. Dismissed editors were selecting and editing news produced by the content partner broadcasters to be used in MSN.com, Microsoft Edge browser and various Microsoft News applications. The news had wide repercussions in the world’s media, especially in the Guardian. Microsoft, which works with about 800 content editors in 50 countries, was now deciding to contract AI does this job. The dismissed journalists continued their editorial duties at Microsoft under the umbrella of a news agency called PA Media. Although the pandemic reduced media advertising revenue, Microsoft announced that the layoffs were not related to the crisis, but an internal restructuring.
Microsoft’s AI-based content editors, on the other hand, have mixed things up like a novice intern from the first week. In the news about the anti-racism “Black Lives Matter” show that Jade Thirlwall, the black singer of the music group Little Mix, attended in London, a photo of her crossbreed friend Leigh-Anne Pinnock in the music group.
Reacting to the situation, Thirlwall, in Instagram post, accused MSN of being “ignorant and not doing its job properly.” This first attempt to produce content without human touch thus ended in a fiasco. But Google and others are eager to explore opportunities to use AI in journalism, even though they have not yet made an early attempt like Microsoft. To provide mutual fund support, they are exploring such projects.
Customers still trust human employees more than AI
The main goal of digital transformation in business life is undoubtedly to increase quality and profitability. Therefore, if this process results in customer satisfaction, it will have achieved its purpose and success. So, are consumers and customers prepared enough to give up buying products and services from human employees?
Pega offers AI-powered cloud software solutions to global giant companies. For more than 35 years, the company has been developing software for customer engagement and operational excellence to deliver higher customer satisfaction, lower costs and lifetime customer value. Customers include global brands such as American Express, HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Master Card, PayPal, Standard&Poor’s, Cisco, Coca Cola, Dell, Ford, Pfizer, Philips, Siemens, Toyota, Unilever, Vodafone.
Pega declares from its website that although it offers AI-based software to giant brands, consumers still don’t trust AI sufficiently. Pega, which conducted a study with 6,000 consumers from North America, UK, Australia, Japan, Germany and France to determine their views on “empathy and AI,” shares interesting data. More than half of respondents do not believe AI can improve the customer experience, and still prefer human interaction instead of AI. Based on these findings, Pega asks, “AI is ubiquitous and seamlessly integrated into everyday life. So why don’t consumers still trust it?” According to Pega, perhaps this is due to science fiction stories about robots that capture our jobs and leave humanity behind. Or customers are increasingly losing confidence in companies and how they use technology.
Non-human, human resource
In the age of digital transformation, with the strain of pandemic conditions, the transfer of business processes in companies to AI technologies is gaining momentum. Technology companies like Microsoft have already taken this path. The issue will soon cease to be robotic AI’s competition with the workforce.
Projects such as Neuralink, which aim to strengthen the interaction between the human brain and AI, will enable “Online human resource with a digital body equipped with AI of which lack of emotional intelligence is eliminated” when deepfake technologies are integrated. Online companies will look for a way out of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic in this “non-human” human resource.
In this way, the problem of consumer confidence will also be overcome by itself, because in online communication, deepfake employees will be no different from human employees. In the artificial reality of the near future, “will we become unable to distinguish human employees?” let’s discuss it in the next article.