Artificial Intelligence Versus Human Labor: An Organizational Business Dilemma

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Abstract

Technological advancements have led to fast-growing economies and have completely changed the way human beings work. As a move to increase productivity, companies have found themselves at crossroads on whether to automate their processes or retain their workforce. With new expectations, competition, and the desire to retain market positing, companies have to walk through this fine line between human and machine labor and choose which one will help them achieve the set goals and achievements. The human-machine interaction at the workplace has changed from the earlier version where man operated machines as a way of making work easier. Nowadays, it’s clear that the machine is winning and wants to take over all the work at the company. (Obayashi, 2012) states “Innovation is the implementation of new more efficient production method by achieving qualitative improvements of the goods and services in a specific area in this paper’s case is a production system”. This paper, therefore, sets to analyses the advantages that these two forms of labor have over the other and hopefully give conclusions to the dilemma between human and machine labor.

Introduction

Within the past few years, technology has changed the way human beings work, interact, survive and live. Our whole livelihood seems to be supported entirely by technology. The labor industry hasn’t been left behind to the extent that almost all industries have elements of automation in them. It’s hard and nearly impossible to see a company or a firm which hasn’t integrated machine labor with human labor. Organizations, governments, people and institutions are all putting many resources into research and development to research machines which can possibly replace human labor. This is because, over time, it has been known and established that artificial intelligence has many advantages over human labor such as increased efficiency, accuracy, speed, cost etc.(Obayashi, 2012)

For instance, work which was supposedly handled by ten people can be completed by just a single machine and even with a better output. This has made most of the companies to embrace artificial intelligence and forgo human labor with the main intention of cutting down the production cost and increasing work efficiency. Even though this might be the case, there are concerns about the human touch that human labor gives the work which a machine won’t (Obayashi, 2012). This makes it even harder for some companies to decide whether to employ human or machine labor. There is, even more, worry about whether the automation will become so much such that it replaces everyone’s jobs leaving just the CEO to run a company full of machines

Reasons for the dilemma- why automation came to being

Making production similar in all aspect of the company is very important but with human labor, there is room for error which makes it impossible to achieve. Therefore, companies are faced with the challenge of producing similar products and services which will satisfy their consumers without much vary. People unlike machines vary and have different characteristics, emotions, etc meaning they will perform differently under the same work environment. In layman’s terms, two people under the same working environment and conditions won’t produce precisely the same results.

Even under established protocols and procedures, there is still a lack in uniformity which is a great requirement if a company has to increase its customer base and overall revenues. The only way to resolve this was the establishment of a machine that could produce similar results which could satisfy the consumer needs in the same way. This way, the companies would get a much better understanding of their customer base with regard to their preferences and needs. However, the interaction between human and machine labor has changed to become a hostile competitive one with both sides wishing to prove they are the right option for the job.

Major concerns behind automation

Loss of employment

As previously mentioned, machines are here to replace our work. In the past, there was no cause for alarm since only a few jobs were automated. However, today, even the simplest of jobs are being automated which has taken employment from many people rendering them jobless in the process (Frey & Osborne, 2017). Companies and the society are therefore worried that if such a trend continues, the replacement of human labor by the machines will increase so much causing more people to become unemployed.

Take the issue of ATM for example. In the past, this was a job for about five people but today, it doesn’t even need a single person to operate it. It’s just efficient on its own. Corporate social responsibility is an important aspect that an organization has to uphold if it’s to remain in the market place. A business that constantly replaces human labor with artificial intelligence goes against corporate social responsibility. Employment is a sure way of giving back to society and in turn, society sees it as a kind gesture and consumes the services and products which the company produces. If this isn’t the case, the company becomes at the negative side of society.The automation comes at a time when the cases of unemployment are very high in recent times. More people are becoming jobless because after college, the work they are set to do have been taken over by machines. If automation continues, we are subjecting a society into more depression and a set of despair (Frey & Osborne, 2017)

Capitalism advancements

One of the most important tasks that an organization or the management is tasked with is wealth maximization. This means that the company will work with the option which has the minimum cost of production and that guarantees increased productivity and revenue. Machines through their efficiency reduce the company needs to employ human labor. The organization sees it legible to buy a machine which is operated by a single individual or none at all. All the money that would have been paid out to the employees ends up being saved and used for other productive activities such as in research and development.

Shareholder wealth maximization comes to play here with the owners increase more of their revenues whereas the employees plummet deeper into poverty. This no longer becomes a dilemma especially when we are living in a materialistic world full of people with self-interest ideas and agendas. Companies are investing millions of dollars into buying artificial intelligence that will replace human labor. In fact, most of the successful companies out there today are those that have invested in artificial intelligence, especially artificial intelligence. Such companies sell administrative software which replaces administrative jobs of important human labor such as a supervisor. This technology is very expensive which makes such companies be very rich once they sell the technology. Software manufacturing industries have become the new trend of getting money and knowingly or unknowingly replacing human labor. The need for certain skills is becoming obsolete meaning more people are becoming useless (Autor, Levy, & Murnane, 2001)

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Robots replacing human beings

It is said that one-day artificial intelligence will take over the world and will no longer have the need for human beings. Such machines will be able to operate themselves from the start to the finish. This is even happening as we speak. The latest case of complete automation is a company in Dongguan City. This factory has since replaced over 90% of its workforce with machine labor. The company saw an increase in productivity of over 250% and over 80% reduction in defects (Hallevy, 2018). This seems to be a very wise opportunity in the short term but what about in the long term. We have already been warned that machines will take over, yet we continue to act as if this won’t happen. According to statistics, conducted research and the rate of automation, we are witnessing, it will be very soon. The dilemma comes in play when human labor is a necessity such as medicine. (Hallevy, 2018)

Even though many advancements and research have been directed to the medical field, no machine can do what human labor can do. Robots, for instance, can make a complete diagnosis or conduct a successful operation. Simply put, the doctor can’t be replaced by automation. This should be the case with other fields. A person is more intelligent than a robot in the sense that they can think as well as adjust to the situation. A person can see an event and plan the way forward which can’t be said for the machines. “A robot or a machine will perform a certain duty in the same manner in all the cases making it not very appropriate for tasks which need thinking” (Hallevy, 2018)

Advantages of artificial intelligence over human labor

There are many advantages that machine labor has over human labor. First of all, the machines are very fast compared to human labor. In addition, the machines are highly efficient meaning that task is performed faster and speedily compared to if they were done by people. As previously mentioned, a machine has the capability of performing a task within a day which could have taken a human 500 days to accomplish. This makes machine labor the best option especially when racing against time. Therefore a company will opt to use machines which will assist in the production of more services and goods in short time duration.

Machine labor assists the management to deliver within the time frame and thus eliminate any delays to the consumers. Second. Machines don’t get exhausted, only wear out. The same can’t be sad for human labor. People can only work for limited hours of the day and even then, they can’t be as productive as yesterday. Productivity varies from time to time. Machines can run for an entire month without the need for a checkup. This makes them suited for tasks which require continuous performance, for instance, an escalator. Third, machines don’t require compensation, only maintenance from time to time.

However, on the other hand, human labor will require to be compensated for the services rendered. In addition, to this, machines don’t ask for bonuses or allowances like people do. This means that the capital that would have been used as compensation is retained as profit in the company. “The organization reduces its cost of production by a high percentage as the machines will replace the need of human labor and thus making it cheap for the organization to operate.” Some would argue that maintenance is costly but it’s far less compared to human labor in both the short term and long term.

Another advantage is that machines produce similar products, unlike human labor. Machines operate in a similar fashion and there are no variations unless changed by the operator. Once it has been adjusted, the services or products produced are standardized. This aspect is especially important in the commercial production of goods where the company needs lots of products similar to each other. This makes it simpler to ascertain the product quality since only one sample is required for the whole batch. For instance, during oil packaging by Shell Oil, the oil cans will have the same volume as well as quality so long as the settings remain the same. Therefore should testing of the whole batch be required only one can oil will be used as a representation of all the cans

Lastly, machines eliminate corruption and aren’t vulnerable to it. In most of the developing nations, corruption is a menace and employing machines rather than human labor will help eliminate this threat. The reason is that a machine applies a standard in all situations regardless of the situation. This can’t be said for the human labor in which favors are extended on the groups of friendship or family ties. For instance, in a factory setting, a computer knows exactly how many people report to work each day and has therefore prepared their salaries. However, a human being may be tempted to cook up for personal interest and gains

Disadvantages machines have over human labor

Not all instances where machines can replace human labor. As stated above, machines can think on their own, meaning that they are limited to certain fields. A machine can’t conform to the current situation meaning that its capability to adjust accordingly is limited. Therefore a machine or artificial intelligence can’t notice that change is required even when the fault is identifiable. A human being, however, can detect when something is going wrong and thus adjust accordingly (Dogan & Yildirim, 2017).

Take the medical field as an example. During surgery, the doctor can recognize another inflammation or condition that is causing the primary problem. He or she can, therefore, make diagnostic and adjust accordingly by fixing the inflammation first. However, a robot, on the other hand, will remain fixated on the primary problem and completely ignore the inflammation. This means that the patient will eventually die. This fact coincides well with (Dogan & Yildirim, 2017) who states that “A machine will only operate on commands and without the commands, the machines will not operate? What the machine or the robot has been commanded will form its actions until a different command is given”

Machines have led to high levels of unemployment which is the biggest disadvantages that machine labor has created. So many people have been rendered jobless due to this. Some have been stopped halfway and told that their services are no longer required. Others finish college just to find their skills useless simply because of machine labor (Autor, Levy, & Murnane, 2001). Currently, the unemployment rate is very high and this is set to continue in the coming decade as technological advancements continue improving. This means that more people face unemployment and there is no telling which job will be fully secure in the long run. Lastly, these machines operate on the basis of the information fed to them. Therefore, if an error is made during input, the whole production is ruined which can be costly and inconvenient.

Conclusion

Technology has indeed changed how we operate as a society especially the labor industry. Technology appears to concentrate only on making work more efficient and fast with no regard to how human beings will survive. All people depend on employment to feed their families and keep their lives going. Once this is taken away, the world will plummet into despair with people lacking ways to survive. However, even though this might be the case, companies are constantly looking for ways of reducing production costs through automation. This, therefore, causes a dilemma for an organization, whether to hire employees or to use artificial intelligence. Cost reduction and performance improvement are the main themes which automation brings. According to the above arguments, it’s clear that a company would choose machine labor over human labor due to these two factors. However, when it comes to retaining the human aspect and to prevent the machines from taking over, we have to limit how much we let the machines take over the labor. It’s a high time that companies realized the danger that is lurking in the automation and take a step back. We should indeed remember a time when man was in control of the machine and revisit that era. We should also look into the future and when we do we will be on the right track. The machines are about to take over and they will do this through labor automation. Therefore even though we value cost production and efficiency we should value ourselves too or else we will be replaced. Besides, we were also productive when we were in control of these machines in the past decades.

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