It refers to employees’ rights to refuse unreasonable after-hours contact from their employer.
- It refers to employees’ rights to refuse unreasonable after-hours contact from their employer.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) assistants in the workplace are touted as a potential solution to this “availability creep”.
A crushing digital debt
- It reveals that 57% of the average workday is spent on communications and 68% of respondents couldn’t find uninterrupted blocks of time to focus during the workday.
- The origins of digital debt can be traced back to the “productivity paradox” from the late 20th century, where increasing technology investments had led to decreasing workplace productivity.
- Left unattended, digital debt accrues “interest”, with damaging effects on both employee and employer.
AI assistants to the rescue?
- But the capabilities of these AI assistants are fittingly at the intersection of digital debt, the deluge of data, and the right to disconnect.
- In the broadest sense, generative AI (think ChatGPT) produces new and meaningful content in response to prompts from a human operator.
- AI assistants generalise this capability for goal-oriented complex tasks.
A needy assistant that needs supervision
- By learning from past data and not through lived experiences, it lacks factual knowledge of the world.
- Therefore, the human using the AI must “peer review” all of the assistant’s output to avoid potential errors and misrepresentations.
- In most workplaces where we are expected to “do more with less”, such needy AI assistants would create an additional layer of work.
The looming ethics problem
- It is no secret AI also has an ethics problem, and this extends to AI assistants.
- There are efforts to regulate AI based on the risks it poses, but the challenge is that the risk itself is dynamic.
- For example, menial office tasks could go horribly wrong if politically sensitive, tone deaf or workplace-inappropriate content is produced and circulated by an AI.
Daswin de Silva does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.