The Influx Of Artificial Intelligence And The Danger Ahead

By Jake Croman

An unhealthy, dangerous or otherwise toxic work space is known to deter workers from innovation and damage a company’s reputation. Entrepreneurs have a responsibility to ensure that working environments keep employees safe, satisfied and positive so they can remain productive and innovative on the job.

With the focus on workplace health management programs, along with the emergence of AI technologies, it’s crucial to understand how these disruptive tools will affect the health — mental, social and physical — of workers across various sectors.

Image: WOCinTech Chat via Flickr
Image: WOCinTech Chat via Flickr

AI is promising to change the way workplaces operate, but will it be a force for good or disrupt workplace culture in negative ways? With the expectation that AI will create a $190.6 billion market by 2025, it could be a tool used to provide healthier, more productive, and accessible work environments for all employees.

From hazardous to healthy

Toxic work environments, whether physically or mentally toxic, can take a toll on workers’ well-being and productivity. It’s estimated that companies lose up to $300 billion annually because of absentee workers with high stress levels, according to the American Institute of Stress.

Surveys and workplace trends have pointed to the fact that emerging technologies, like AI, can play a significant role over the next several years and beyond. For example, they can effectively adopt meditative practices into the workplace, employee support, and improvements to communication to name a few. Strategic health-focused strategies can align employees’ well-being and the company’s mission, vision, and core values.

Companies are beginning to implement more health initiatives to retain employees and revenue. Surveys and research including a 2017 study from the American Psychological Association Center found that 61 percent of working Americans experience chronic work-related stress.

Well-being technology in the workplace

Already, well-being technology is upending the way workplaces run. A series of workplace innovations are integrated with workforce monitoring, trackers, digital platforms, and occupational health and safety technologies. Cloud platforms integrate an organization’s wellness programming into the company’s digital infrastructure, all while capturing data that engages with employees across the business, and actively communicating information with them. Platforms, trackers and workforce monitoring tools are interconnected via wearable or app-based activity tracking devices and, with the help of AI, they’re about to get even better. Emotional well-being technology is also on the rise in workplaces. Apps like provide emotional counseling with the help of AI pattern recognition platforms.

These device capture employee information through employee input or an automated tracker, but some e-health companies now offer metrics and action plans on combined outputs with real-time advice and guidance through big data and machine learning. Companies like Glint use AI and natural language processing to capture and analyze qualitative data from various sources.

According to a report on The Future of Technology in Workplace Wellbeing from Up rise founder Dr. Jay Spence, early evidence suggests that tech is acceptable and positively affects outcomes in the workplace.

However, companies still have a long way to go to make technology an enabler of office health. A recent Colliers study has found that only 26 percent of companies subsidize the cost of fitness-tracking tools to support employee health and fitness such as Fitbit trackers, but this number is expected to increase significantly by 2020.

In other areas, for example, AI-enabled wearable tools imbued with machine learning algorithms and natural language processing can help identify workers who struggle with productivity or happiness in the office with the following approaches:

Cognitive insights

AI metrics can also identify patterns, referred to as cognitive insights. They can accurately process large troves of highly detailed employee data, while improving upon their predictive analytics for work behaviors and patterns as time goes on. Types of machine learning, deep learning specifically, can attempt to mimic human brain activity to recognize these patterns, even identifying images and speech. It configures higher probable matches in behavior amongst data associated with the same person or company, even if it’s in different formats.

For example, GE has utilized this tool to incorporate supplier data, saving $80 million with the elimination of redundancies and negotiating contracts as part of an employee business task. Overall, cognitive insights can target its insights for job performance when paired with wellness technology to identify behavior speech patterns and modes or working that are either unhealthy or dangerous to others.


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