This article was originally published on the WorkForce blog.
Does A.I. scare you? More importantly, should it?
The date: Saturday, August 15, 2026.
The place: your home.
It’s Saturday, 10:00 AM. You’re late.
You opened your eyes for the first time an hour after your personal training session with Kareem was scheduled to start. You have a panicky moment—how could this happen; you set your alarm; you’re never late—and then you see the text:
Hi, it’s Kareem. The baby’s sick. I’m so sorry, but I had to cancel on you. If you woke up late, it’s because the cancellation triggered an alarm readjustment. Remember? See you Monday at 6!
You do remember: the alarm readjustment is a function of the scheduling system Kareem uses with his clients. You smile to yourself, pleased. Then you remember your work dream—it was a bad one…
Before you know it, you’re out of bed, heading down the hall to your home office where, most days, you work remotely, overseeing your company’s HR department. As you speed walk there, barefoot, hallway sensors capture and measure your body heat, adjusting the temperature in each room to fit your preset comfort level.
The air is cool and refreshing when you walk in. As you near your oversized touchscreen display, it immediately turns on, projecting a red laser keyboard onto your smooth, plastic, white desk. Your digital assistant, Sarah, simultaneously comes to life.
“Good morning,” says Sarah, her voice is clear and even as it leaves your monitor. “As of today, at 10:06 AM, zero overtime hours have been recorded or requested. Would you like to see all of this week’s overtime recap?”
“No,” you say. “Pull up what next week is going to look like.”
Your monitor instantly goes black. The words “Predictive Mode” pulse in the center of your screen for three, two, one: bingo. Next week’s numbers are in front of you. You scan the dashboard, reading the overtime predictions.
“Thanks, Sarah,” you say, relieved. “These are the figures I was hoping for. I woke up nervous that we’d be over.”
“My pleasure,” responds Sarah. “Would you like me to pull up any other information? Next week’s engagement levels? Next month’s attrition rates? Current compliance stats?”
“No, that’s okay. I got what I needed,” you say. “Have a nice weekend.”
“You, too. Sorry your workout was canceled. Don’t forget, your next session is scheduled for Monday, August 17th at 6:00 PM.”
The keyboard disappears. The monitor goes black.
Does Artificial Intelligence scare you?
Because it scares a lot of people.
But who can blame them: V.I.KI. in I, Robot was scary; The Machines in The Matrix were scary; Skynet in The Terminator was scary. Hollywood made these AIs “scary” because it sells tickets—and our imaginations take care of the rest.
That said, we can all relax.
At WorkForce, our perception of artificial intelligence—and the role it’ll play in HR departments, specifically—is optimistic.
Are we dependent on our technology? To a degree, yes. Will artificial intelligence become more advanced, more powerful as time goes on? It will. But will AI turn against us and become our downfall? No. That’s fantastically unlikely.
If anything, AI will serve to continuously elevate humanity, making us ever more productive, efficient, and effective, especially at work. Whether you’re working individually or as part of a team, Artificial Intelligence will serve to enable and empower people.
How, exactly? Let’s take a look…
Tomorrow’s HR Departments
The smart bots are coming. We know that. And while we’re on the subject of what’s to come, we should also mention that, in the future, many HR pros will be working remotely.
Knowing that, here are a couple things you can expect your home office to be equipped with:
1. A virtual, intelligent assistant.
Sarah, the even-toned, helpful and hasty digital assistant is coming—and you don’t need to wait until 2026 to hire her. In fact, she’s currently in beta development at a company called Talla.
Talla integrates with tools like Slack, Office 365, and Google Apps, using something called Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand human speech. Think: Google Voice Search, but much, much more robust.
For example, you could say something like, “send out this employee survey and organize the feedback in an Excel document,” and just like that, it’s on your virtual assistant’s to-do list. One less thing.
If you have a HR assistant, you understand how valuable he or she is. You understand that without them, your work would suffer: stress would distract you; fatigue would bog you down. A competent assistant is a tremendous help.
Now, imagine if they had the ability to see into next week…
2. Software that tells you the future.
Sarah wasn’t kidding when she offered to pull up next week’s employee engagement levels and attrition rates. Thanks to something called “Predictive Analytics” (PA), she had them on-hand, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
If you’ve never heard of Predictive Analytics, or just need a refresher, here’s a breakdown:
The term is an evolution of the simple analytics most HR professionals are familiar with: large amounts of data distilled and summarized for human consumption (e.g., the results of that employee survey you asked your virtual assistant to organize). Of course, we have more data at our disposal today than at any other point in history—and the figures will only compound with time. Just think, by 2020, there’ll be:
And those machines will produce enormous amounts of data—“Big Data”—that’ll feed Predictive Analytics engines, which apply advanced statistical techniques (e.g. linear regression) to forecast what might happen in the future.
Of course, PA is nothing new. Cab drivers use it to foresee when the best fares will come. Teachers use it anticipate absences. It’s pattern recognition, at the end of the day. Except computers do it faster, more accurately, and on a grander scale than the human brain ever could—and they’re getting better at it every day.
Artificial Intelligence is a slow, cumulative technology. So if you’re threatened by the thought of life as we know it changing overnight at the hands of a robotic revolution, don’t be. AI is a leaky faucet, not a tidal wave.
That said, Natural Language Processing and Predictive Analytics will, slowly but surely, change the way you communicate and make decisions at work.
NLP will make you more efficient and productive, giving you back countless hours.
PA will make the most of your data, making it easier to hit the goals you’ve set for next week, next month, and next quarter.
Then again, if you can’t wait another minute to break free of your manual processes—much less another decade—consider the benefits that automated workforce management software delivers to HR and Payroll departments around the world, right now.
The future of AI is bright, but that doesn’t mean the present isn’t rich with powerful, automated HR tools that’ll elevate you, your people, and your business.