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AI. There’s no escaping it. The acronym has become so prevalent that our magazine’s house style doesn’t even call for “artiﬁcial intelligence” to be spelled out anymore upon ﬁrst reference. It’s as ubiquitous in the business world as PTO, ROI and SWOT.
But unlike other letters that roll off your tongue, AI carries a negative connotation that it can’t seem to shake. It triggers an apocalyptic “they’re coming for your job” mentality, compounded by a general lack of belief in its benevolence.
Trust in AI? Bah! Humbug!
Well, I’ve got news for you, Ebenezer. It’s time to get on board or ﬁnd another planet to inhabit. Our two lead features this month, “An Energizing Force” and “On the Edge of a New Frontier,” imagine a workplace where AI’s impact only grows in signiﬁcance. It dismisses the quaint idea of merely coexisting with the development of smart tech.
Unlike a noisy neighbor whom you tolerate because the rent is low, and you don’t want to cause a kerfufﬂe, AI is impossible to ignore. Instead of sugarplums, the visions that dance in our heads are UFOs, androids (malfunctioning or internally conﬂicted) and malevolent aliens (thanks, Hollywood).
Cinematic special effects and sci-ﬁ visionaries aside, we’ve all borne witness to AI’s brilliance, along with its encroachment on our daily lives. Be it watching a demo on our desktop or in the ﬂesh at a trade show, the wonderment of AI has now catapulted us into a new and bold direction, an unsettling paradigm shift. A truly uncharted dimension!
Most of us can remember our ﬁrst screen encounters with AI. They almost seem primitive now. The sentient computer HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. The ghost in the machine in the digitized form of a computer programmer (played by Jeff Bridges) who spirals into a cyber abyss in the ﬁlm Tron. The nefarious robotic creations of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot.
But these depictions, no matter how thrilling or foreboding, don’t speak to the practical application of AI in the workplace: the empowerment of AI-driven self-service tools capable of mentoring employees, informing them how to ﬁll skill gaps to advance in their careers.
No matter how hard you resist it, AI has arrived. It will not slither away like an uninvited snake or blow over like a sudden microburst. It is a partner — not a guest — a force to harness and a surprisingly cost-effective tech solution to embrace.
As we all learned from the Borg on Star Trek, resistance is futile.