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IEET > Rights > Economic > Vision > Directors > George Dvorsky > Sociology > Artificial Intelligence

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This Artificially Intelligent Boss Means the Workplace Will Never Be the Same


George Dvorsky
By George Dvorsky
io9

Posted: Sep 18, 2015

Suddenly, your boss doesn’t seem so bad. Japanese firm Hitachi is now using artificially intelligent managers, in what may be a world’s first. These AI bosses can not only issue workflows and employee duties in real time, they can even find ways to improve employee efficiency.

A week ago, Hitachi announced its new initiative via this press release:

Development of Artificial Intelligence issuing work orders based on understanding of on-site kaizen activity and demand fluctuation.

 

By “kaizen” Hitachi is referring to the Japanese business philosophy of the continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, and so on. In this case, an AI has been put in charge of a warehouse management system—and it has apparently improved efficiency by 8%.

According to the Hitachi release, it’s able to provide appropriate work orders “based on an understanding of demand fluctuation and on-site kaizen activity derived from big data accumulated daily in corporate business systems, and its verification in logistics tasks.” So unlike previous efforts at automation, this system can adjust work orders in real time, basing its decisions on huge stores of data.
Writing in Yahoo! Tech, Glenn McDonald explains more

The Hitachi AI is programmed to adjust work flows depending on what the weather’s like (among other factors). So forget about blaming that snowstorm for being late or delaying a deadline: The boss already knows about the snow and has already Made Appropriate Corrections.

The really fascinating stuff involves the integration of artificial intelligence with the concept of kaizen…[wherein] workers should implement new approaches based on their personal experience. But Hitachi’s AI system adds a new twist to that system: “The AI automatically analyzes the outcome of these new approaches, and selects processes which produce better results and applies it to the next work order.”

Yikes, as if warehouses weren’t already awful places to work

I mean, if your boss is a robot, that pretty much means you’re one, too.


George P. Dvorsky serves as Chair of the IEET Board of Directors and also heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program. He is a Canadian futurist, science writer, and bioethicist. He is a contributing editor at io9 — where he writes about science, culture, and futurism — and producer of the Sentient Developments blog and podcast. He served for two terms at Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association). George produces Sentient Developments blog and podcast.
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