Does AI improve or replace humans?
AI and other technology which is based on algorithms are making their inroads into more and more industries. For example, banks and insurance companies use AI to approve loans by collecting data about customers. Researchers at Mälardalen University (MDU) are currently investigating whether AI technology is used to enhance and improve human work or to replace it.
According to Inti Lammi, Senior Lecturer in Organisation and Management at MDU, he believes:
“On the one hand, a conception exists that technology such as AI can be used to automate and replace work duties, something that has major consequences for the future of work and governance. On the other hand, there is a conception that AI can make certain work processes easier or give employees the opportunity to focus on more rewarding activities that only a human can perform.”
Eager to investigate the consequences of using AI
With his research project, Inti Lammi wishes to investigate where we in Sweden stand on this matter. Is it the case that AI and other technologies based on algorithms are used to simplify or replace work duties and processes?
“That we have chosen to investigate the banking and insurance sector in particular is because now there are technological opportunities such as automated loan approval based on collected data about customers. In this environment, the development of AI has received a lot of attention, although there is little research that can show exactly how the technology is used and what the consequences are," says Inti Lammi.
The research will be conducted in different stages:
- Mapping of which technology is actually used in Sweden.
- Delving into specific case studies.
- Investigating the consequences of the use of AI on the work environment in banks and insurance companies.
Why is this research so important?
“Today, we don't know much about how this technology could influence us. There is a lot of talk about how AI could challenge the future of work and governance in dramatic ways; but there is rarely empirical research done that supports such discussions,” says Inti Lammi and continues:
“There is also a lack of research on how the technology has been designed, introduced and how it affects the work environment at the workplace. With this research, we can contribute to new knowledge about the link between management's intentions, the technology used and the work environment for employees in the banking and insurance sector.”
Guidelines for support on opportunities and risks
The results of the research project will also be disseminated in the form of guidelines that managers can use when procuring and introducing new digital technology to provide support regarding opportunities and risks. These guidelines are also interesting to white collar workers in other industries.
Financed through a R&D project at Afa Försäkring
The research project is called “Automation or Augmentation? How the office employees’ work environment is influenced by the structure and use of automation technologies" and is financed by SEK 3.4 million from Afa Insurance within the scope of the three-year research and development project “The impact on the work environment due to the automation, robotisation and application of artificial intelligence". Anette Hallin, Professor of Business Administration and Chris Ivory, Professor of Innovation Management at MDU and Gisela Bäcklander, researcher in working life and organisations at the Karolinska Institute are also involved in the project.
Project members are also Anette Hallin, Professor in Business Administration and Chris Ivory, Professor in Innovation Management at MDU and Gisela Bäcklander, at Karolinska Institutet (KI).