Rise of the machines – the impact of automation on creativity in HR

May 1, 2019


According to the World Economic Forum, automation will claim 35 percent of all jobs in the next 20 years – but creativity is safe, right? The short answer is, maybe. Here, I cover how artificial intelligence and automation is advancing in HR and its potential impact on creativity in the world of resourcing.
Right now, we are witnessing automation change the scope of recruitment. This January news broke of an insurance company in Japan that made 34 employees redundant, replacing them with an AI programme based on IBMs Watson, a step they believe will increase productivity by 30% and save the equivalent of £1m a year. Whilst the automation of IT jobs has been anticipated for some time, it’s been generally accepted that creativity and emotional intelligence cannot, and will not, be emulated by machines – but is this still the case?

2016 saw the arrival of the world’s first artificial creative director, a Japanese AI programme wrote an almost-award-winning short novel, and a digital poster learned to ‘read’ the reaction of its audience and adapt accordingly. Artificial Intelligence is dabbling in the creative arena, so how is it going to affect us in the world of resourcing?
What’s new?

When it comes to HR, there’s no doubt that an increasing number of workplace tasks will become automated, and with some of the emerging technology on the horizon, it could happen quicker than any of us had expected. Entelo, a software designed to scrape information from people’s social media profiles and process the way they interact online, is innovating the way companies source and target potential employees. It can tell the sourcing team how likely people are to move jobs in the next three months, and the very principle of it enables the number of people in a resourcing team to be streamlined or reduced. If, for example, you are trying to find an IT Director, and there are thousands out there, traditionally you would need hundreds of man hours to find them, talk to them, and have the conversations needed. Entelo speeds up and automates that initial process, and it’s not just scraping data; it runs an algorithm that identifies which candidates are most likely to move – surely something that takes thought and a conversation.
Another potential game changer is a software called Crystal Knows, which informs the way that we should communicate with people to get the best possible response. Let’s take myself as an example: I’m a sales person – I talk a lot, I read a lot of content and I like a lot of detail in the correspondence that I get. Crystal Knows would run a profile on me and tell the person who’s trying to approach me what type of personality I am. It enables the resourcing team to think about the way that they’re going to interact with prospects, increasing the likelihood of response and essentially automating relationship building from the get go – could ‘the gift of the gab’ actually be replaced by machines?
When AI goes wrong

Technology is breaking boundaries for us, but it’s far from perfect, and sometimes it can get a little ahead of itself. Last year Microsoft unveiled Tay, a Twitter bot that the company described as an experiment in “conversational understanding”. The more people chatted with Tay, the smarter the technology got. Unfortunately, however, Tay got corrupted because it was learning from, and emulating, the behaviours of the people it interacted with online – and if you know the scape of the Twittersphere, you’ll know it’s a controversial place to learn behaviour.  The bot had to be removed from online conversations after a 24 hour racist, sexist rampage. There’s undeniably a risk around the unconscious bias in artificial intelligence because there’s no emotional filter to sense check, am I right or am I wrong? This is probably the biggest obstacle when it comes to replacing human creativity and emotional intelligence in the work place with machines, and as of yet, there doesn’t seem to be a solution.
So, what next?

There is no doubt that all these emerging technologies – and there are lots of them – are establishing better ways to engage with people, and making relationship building easier. But do I ever think that we’ll get to a point where technology is building relationships with people in their entirety? Personally, no. Right now, I can’t foresee a time when a client will sit down for lunch with a robotic sales “person”, or when a candidate is interviewed by a technology so emotionally intelligent that it can read every aspect of their reactions, expressions and body language, to know whether, compared to their competition, they are the best fit for the role.
However, in this ever evolving landscape, it’s near impossible to predict what’s around the corner. Part of me loves my job in sales and therefore wants to be right, but the other, more disruptive, part of me would love someone to prove me wrong! So, who’s up for the challenge?

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