On the Consequences of Interacting with AI at Work

On the Consequences of Interacting with AI at Work
Photo by Simon Abrams / Unsplash

What happens when humans spend hours of their workday engaged with artificial intelligence – rather than other people – to help them do their jobs? Well, there’s good news and bad news.

That’s according to the guest I spoke with on a recent episode of Mediated World. Pok Man Tang is an assistant professor at the Terry College of Business in the University of Georgia and has spent the last several years studying this space.

He learned, among other insights, that there is the potential for both positive and negative consequences when people spend their days working with AI-based systems. You can read the full article here (PDF).

The good news is that, in some cases, these AI interactions (or social deprivation) can lead to positive, adaptive behaviors. This may look like helping others or joining more social events. Tang calls these, "pro-social behaviors."

The bad news is that for others, working with AI systems can lead to harmful behaviors, especially after work, like insomnia and alcohol abuse. Individuals with "maladaptive responses" to social isolation at work, tend to show destructuve behaviors at work and after work. This tendency is likely a result of environmental factors from that person's childhood.

The results of this research should make executives think critically before deploying AI assistants to their workforce – especially when employees must rely on these systems for the majority of their work. And managers should think about how they might amplify and encourage the positive effects and be transparent about the negative ones.

You can listen to my conversation with Professor Tang on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.