‘AI will destroy jobs’

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Donald Farmer, Principal of Treehive Strategy.
Donald Farmer, Principal of Treehive Strategy.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace people and experiences we don’t care about.

“It will destroy the jobs of people we don’t treat as human beings, we actually treat them as human machines,” said Donald Farmer, Principal of Treehive Strategy.

Farmer advises global software vendors, enterprises and investors on data and advanced analytics strategies.

Speaking at the 2020 ITWeb Business Intelligence Summit in Johannesburg this week, Farmer said that if jobs are to survive, we need to strengthen our commitment to, and engagement with, the human element of AI.

“We have to be engaged in order to discover the problem. Augmented intelligence, to me, is about augmenting our human capabilities. It doesn’t replace our human capabilities. We need that human engagement if we are going to make it work. But it does maximise our capabilities, potentially.”

Farmer led a discussion about the future of data and analytics, and focused on how augmented analytics has the potential to transform the organisation.

He explained that this technology fits in somewhere between BI, machine learning and artificial intelligence, but added that it has been around for a long time, the calculator begin a clear example.

Data without analysis is a wasted resource, and analysis without action is a wasted effort.

Donald Farmer

Farmer added that 40 years ago concepts like machine learning, business intelligence and analytics were categorised under an umbrella term ‘decision support’ – which he said is a far more accurate description of what the technology actually does.

“… because it’s not about machines doing everything on their own, it’s about machines augmenting our human capabilities. And quite increasingly, it’s actually going the other way around – it’s about us augmenting machines with our human capabilities.”

Data and analytics lies at the heart of this interaction.

Experts at the Summit issued a general call to action and advised businesses to intensify their efforts to treat data as an asset and exploit the commercial value of the resource.

However, Farmer warned companies exploring AI and looking to leverage the benefits that data without analysis is a wasted resource, and analysis without action is a wasted effort.

“Frankly, you can treat data as an asset, but that still doesn’t help you unless you are applying analysis to that data. What’s the purpose of doing analysis? The purpose of doing analysis is to help make better decisions.”

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