Maplewood man explores AI in the workforce in new book

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Maplewood resident Paul Daugherty is exploring artificial intelligence and how it affects the workforce in his new book, “Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI,” which looks at how computers and machines will affect the workforce as technology advances. Daugherty is the chief technology and innovation officer at Accenture, a consulting firm that works with technology, and he co-wrote the book with H. James Wilson.

“The ‘plus’ in the title is important,” Daugherty said in a phone interview with the News-Record on May 14. “We wanted to talk about humans and machines coming together. There’s been so much talk about humans versus machines and that took some of the fun out of the technology.”

The book explores how using artificial intelligence will change the workforce, and changes the perception that computers will replace human workers eventually. According to Daugherty, the development of artificial intelligence has been slow for a long time, but has recently picked up steam.

“I’ve been tracking it for many years,” he said. “It’s had a few stalls, but now we’ve seen AI develop in a way that it hadn’t before. So it’s a guidebook for leaders and workers to learn from.”

To write the book, more than 1,500 interviews were conducted with organizations in many different fields and at all levels. Daugherty and Wilson talked to people who work in marketing, manufacturing and dozens of other fields to determine how workers feel about artificial intelligence.

“We talked to corporate leaders and assembly line workers and everyone in the middle to see how they used it,” Daugherty said. “A surprising thing is that two-thirds of workers feel positive about it. There’s this stereotype that people are afraid of artificial intelligence; many feel that it could make their jobs more interesting and look forward to learning how to use it.”

With the book, Daugherty wanted to change the mindset about artificial intelligence and clear the confusion that exists around it. He said that while computers can and will change the workplace, this won’t displace employees as much as many believe.

“We wanted to create this mindset around humans and machines. We believe investing in people is the best investment you can make,” Daugherty said, adding that artificial intelligence “will create more opportunities.”

Such opportunities were important to Daugherty and Wilson as they wrote the book. All proceeds from the book’s sales will be donated to nonprofit organizations that help workers who need to change jobs mid-career due to displacement because of technology advancements.

“Artificial intelligence won’t change everything, but there will be displacement,” Daugherty said. “So these places help them shift careers. There are a lot of K-to-12 programs, or college programs, but these look at how we can restart and help them shift careers. We were only going to write it if we could donate it to the process.”

With the book, Daugherty wanted to make it clear that it is meant to help workers understand how machines can help them in their professions.

“It will help you understand AI if you know nothing about it,” he said. “People will be able to apply it to their own journey. There’s a lot of talk about ‘Terminator’ and that robots are going to take over and AI beating us at computer games. But computers are good at playing games. It’s not something we should worry about; we can think about how we can use it for working. It’s really important to understand responsible uses of technology.”

Daugherty will be at Words Bookstore, 179 Maplewood Ave. in Maplewood, to discuss his new book on Saturday, May 19, at 5 p.m.

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