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Artificial Intelligence: Threat or Opportunity?

Artificial Intelligence: Threat or Opportunity?

  • Vicente Sitoe • Executive Director and Partner at SDO Moçambique

Nothing is lost. There is no reason for alarmism, nor for fear. Although the tremendous impact of this new technology in our lives is indisputable, there is no reason to panic.

It is well known that all technology, when introduced, has the effect of causing changes in our lives, mainly in the way we do things and how we interact with each other. This one will be no different.

Artificial Intelligence, commonly represented by the acronym AI, is a technology which is different because of the way it imitates the only ability which until now was exclusive to human beings: the ability to assimilate and reproduce knowledge in a creative way. This is the frontier that we, as humans, have reached, the new reality that we need to learn to live with.

Lately, there is talk about the extinction of jobs as a result of the advances in Artificial Intelligence. The roles of lawyer and Human Resources professional are said to be among the most threatened. This is what people are most afraid of. But when we take a historical retrospective, we identify the pattern of fear present at every turning point or revolution.

From the first industrial revolution to the fourth, the lawyer and Human Resources functions underwent major transformations. From administrative and marginal areas, they became partners of business. If before, for example, a Human Resources professional existed to control workers, process discounts and payments and take care of industrial relations, today, this same professional exists to analyse data on people and processes, control trends and support decision making that impact companies, as well as introduce initiatives on the well-being of the work mass. And, to this end, they have technology at their disposal.

The professionals who did not know how to adapt to these technologies lost value to the market and were replaced by professionals who mastered the technologies. Therefore, it is not the positions that have ceased to exist, it is the functions that have changed and left the most conservative behind.

With Artificial Intelligence we do not foresee a different scenario. We should all be certain that functions will be requalified and new areas of work will emerge. And who requalifies the functions in organisations are the people managers and lawyers, the latter responsible for the addenda to the employment contracts. With this, it is not possible for them to requalify functions to the point of determining their own extinction. Nevertheless, neither lawyers nor Human Resources professionals will be able to continue to work outside this technology. And, moreover, they must find a way to become contributors and stop being mere users of new technologies.

One way for HR professionals to get actively involved would be to try to understand and influence the learning model of Artificial Intelligence: how does this technology learn? What are its sources of information? How does it gather the information that underpins it? And, in turn, lawyers should seek to understand and clarify, the legality (or illegality) of these learning models, in light of the current national legal framework. Is the information collected with consent or not? Do we have sufficient legislation to protect individuals and companies against what could amount to misrepresentation, plagiarism and other intellectual property crimes?

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This is proof that, disruptive as it is, this technology has not driven jobs and functions out of existence. In the same way that the Human Resources function evolved from technician to analyst and specialist, within the framework of these new technologies new designations will be found. And to these new designations new responsibilities will be assigned. This is our vision. Therefore, we see no reason for fear. We do see challenges that need to be faced and overcome successfully.


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