5 Myths About AI In HR

5 Myths About AI In HR

If you are assuming Artificial Intelligence (AI) will take over the world, you need to modify your thought process since it has already taken over the world.


A few years ago, I asked a taxi driver if he would take me to the railway station. He shook his head and stated that there was a taxi strike. I asked him the reason for the strike and he replied that it was due to the launch of CNG. CNG had been deemed as unsafe, and hence, they were protesting for the safety of the passengers.


This is a typical change management problem. We had been putting liquid (petrol/diesel) in our vehicles all these years. Suddenly, someone claimed that our vehicles can run on gas. We found it difficult to comprehend as to how gas will be stored in a petrol pump, and how is it going to be transferred into a vehicle, and how the vehicle will run on gas.


Over a period of time, people saw that it worked and also experienced the benefits offered by CNG. No further questions were raised.


If we were to look back in history for over a hundred years, we will always come across resistance for change. When the modern-day version of electricity (Alternate Current) was being popularised, there were protests claiming that it is potentially dangerous to life. When computers were being installed in government offices, there was a huge hue and cry about how computers will take away all the jobs. Today, we use electricity as well as computers (the little mini versions you carry in your hand are also computers, per se).


It is human nature to resist anything new since we anticipate risk. When I was a kid, my brother told me that there was a ghost in one of the nearby houses. I believed in that statement for years, and would always run while crossing that house.


The next wave of change is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Although there are no active protests about it on the streets, there is a lot of passive resistance, mostly because we have not explored the possibilities and have developed certain myths in our mind based on what has been told to us. I spoke to some of my HR friends and listed the top 5 myths about AI for HR.


1. AI is only for HR of IT companies


AI is only for HR of IT companies or at most technology companies. Firstly, since technology companies have to sell AI as a product, they showcase it by implementing it in their HR departments. Secondly, they have a workforce which actually works on the development of AI. So, they know how to use AI.


Uber is a platform organisation which uses AI extensively for matching drivers and travellers, route optimisation, driver on-boarding, fraud detection and much more. The platform is being used by customers and drivers, and not coders. When we analyse several of the processes used we can infer that they are technically HR processes.


2. AI is costly


Most people believe that AI is a costly proposition. Of course, AI is costly if you go out and look for it in a fancy showroom.

On Valentine’s Day, if you go to the best florist in town and buy a bouquet of roses, it is going to burn a big hole in your pocket! If you buy roses from the wholesale market and are willing to put them together on your own as a bouquet, then you get it at a fraction of a cost.


Similarly, AI implementation frameworks are freely available on multiple open source platforms including, TensorFlow, Keras, etc. What you need to do is to determine the bouquet you need and the people who can prepare that for you.


Even many off-the-shelf HR software are offering their services (where AI is inbuilt) on a variable cost model. You do not have to make an upfront investment to experience the relevance and ROI on AI solutions (such as AI evaluated video interviews).


3. AI is a technology job, what has HR got to do with it?


It is a compelling argument that HR is a doctor of human psychology, not human technology. The typical answers you get for this question are even more interesting. The job of HR will change from psychology to technology.


If you observe, all consulting and technology companies do not hire technical people alone. They hire subject matter experts as well. What do you think these subject matter experts do at these companies?


Let me take the simple example of implementing a Chatbot. Chatbot technology is available for free on the internet. However, you need to configure a Chatbot for your own company. You need to know the kind of questions that people will ask, and how you would like to answer them based on your company’s policies. Again, it is not about questions and answers alone. You need to decide, how you want to build conversations based on the value system of your organisation. In short, HR professionals need not be programmers, but they should be tech savvy (not scared to carry out business on a mobile phone).


4. AI will eliminate HR jobs


AI will eliminate HR jobs. Frankly, if it were to supposedly eliminate HR jobs eventually, then will you be really able to stop it by resisting it?


The transactional side of HR has been shrinking over the past few decades, but the good news is that the strategic side of HR has been evolving at the same time.


Let us look at the definition of the word ‘organisation’. Organisation is a group of people who come together to work towards a common goal. Can you take HR out of this definition?


Over the years, a formal set of HR activities were established, that worked for most of the organisations. Instead of intent, people started believing those set of activities are HR. When AI is automating some of those activities, we get unsettled that it is going to eliminate HR jobs. This is the time to redefine those “set of activities” which will redefine HR based on intent.


In short, even if some HR jobs get eliminated, HR functionality is not going anywhere.


5. AI will take over the world


How fast can human beings run? The maximum speed is 45 km/hour. We invented the motorcycle which can run multiple times faster than us. Are we scared that a motorcycle is better than us? We use the motorcycle to enhance our speed to achieve more. A Motorcycle is artificial muscle power, AI is artificial brainpower. If we are not scared of the motorcycle, then should we be scared of AI?


Indeed, the popular recruitment platform, has been making use of AI to show people relevant jobs for their profile. When recruiters shortlist a candidate, they get to see candidates with similar profiles. LinkedIn prompts responses when someone writes to you. Google completes your sentences when you are writing a mail.


If you are assuming AI will take over the world, you need to modify your thought process since it has already taken over the world. Apparently, nothing has happened to the world, instead, the world has become a better place.


AI has already taken over the world. Nothing has apparently happened to the world, instead, the world has become a better place.


On the flip side, when humans invented nuclear weapons, it was predicted that the world will be wiped out in a decade. Seven decades have passed and we are still there on the planet. The human race knows how to survive.


AI is here to stay and so are we.


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Harjeet Khanduja is an international speaker, author, poet, visionary, influencer and an HR Leader. He is an alumnus of IIT Roorkee and INSEAD. He is currently working with Reliance Jio. He is an SAP HCM consultant, Six Sigma Greet Belt and Assessor for Predictive Index. Harjeet has 2 published patents and his new book "Nothing About Business" is a chartbuster on Amazon.


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