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Employees have mixed feelings about artificial intelligence in the workplace

A new survey by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated shows four in five employees think artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace will make work more empowering and engaging; however, they also think employers' reluctance to discuss the topic is causing fear and concern, according to www.constructiondive.com.

The "Engaging Opportunity: Working Smarter with AI" survey polled 3,000 workers in eight countries and found 58 percent of organizations haven't discussed with their employees AI's potential effects on the workforce.

Although 82 percent of respondents said AI is an opportunity to improve their jobs, about 34 percent are concerned the technology could someday take their jobs; that viewpoint includes 42 percent of Generation Z employees—those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s. Two-thirds of those surveyed said they would be more comfortable with the idea if employers were more transparent about the future.

Sixty-four percent of respondents said they would welcome AI if it simplified or automated time-consuming internal processes and helped better balance their workloads. In the construction industry, University of Waterloo researchers in Ontario, Canada, are using AI to gain insight regarding how skilled laborers can reduce wear-and-tear injuries.

AI is moving into all aspects of the workplace, from robots in construction and manufacturing to algorithms in employee data analysis. It is crucial employers be transparent and show workers where AI already is being used in their own organizations and where it could or might be expanded. Employees aren't likely to be replaced all at once but should be informed regarding which jobs will use AI so they can upskill or choose different careers.

Still, many readings regarding AI are only projections. A Gartner study predicts AI could bring in 2.3 million more jobs to offset the 1.8 million it replaces; however, these new jobs are expected to require higher-level or specialized skills.

The construction industry is preparing for AI as recent reports point to automation displacing nearly 3 million construction workers during the next 40 years. And the momentum is expected to continue as more companies develop robotics and AI systems geared toward addresing the industry's productivity issues.


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