AI may not replace workers, but it could replace their managers

Amid the growing presence of artificial intelligence in workplaces across industries, proponents of advanced technology have been quick to assure employees that automation will not steal their jobs, but rather restructure them.

The same cannot be said for those workers' managers: According to an article published June 23 in The New York Times, AI is increasingly being used to assist in the hiring process, train employees and monitor their performance and productivity.

Life insurance company MetLife, for example, uses an AI app from Boston-based Cogito that alerts call center employees when they are talking too fast or are not being energetic or empathetic enough. "It actually changes people's behavior without them knowing about it…It becomes a more human interaction," Christopher Smith, MetLife's head of global operations, said of the system, which has reportedly increased customer satisfaction by 13 percent.

In retail settings such as Uniqlo and 7-Eleven, another automated monitoring system, this one from Palo Alto, Calif.-based Percolata, calculates a "true productivity" score for every employee, then ranks them by productivity level. Yet another system from New York City-based Pymetrics offers an AI program that assesses applicants' skills using a series of games rather than based on traditional resumé screening.

"We can tweak data and algorithms until we can remove the bias. We can't do that with a human being," Frida Polli, PhD, Pymetrics' founder and CEO, told the Times.

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