Intelligence – Artificial Or Actual?

Artificial Intelligence might improve efficiency in HR processes and reshape the way companies think of managing employees, however, it can never replace capabilities or characteristics such as human judgement, human interaction, feelings and emotions.


Even the big world of artificial intelligence has actual intelligence working in the background.

A few days back, I read about a multinational that has always been on the forefront of technology adoption to have once again taken the first-mover advantage and had enthusiastically incorporated Artificial Intelligence in an HR process but to its dismay, had to swiftly rollback it as the decision led to the tool showing a certain bias! At the beginning, I was stunned into bemusement; this could have been avoided with another kind of AI – one I call, Actual Intelligence! This snippet took me back to a train of thought that has been recurring to me. What Happened to Some of The Good Old-Fashioned HR that we once lived, breathed and practised? Have we lost faith in the capabilities or abilities that People bring to the table? Has Gut Instinct become a thing of the past? Are the Laws more a tick in the box than a real modification of behaviour?  Is the understanding of Diversity limited to birth and anatomy? 

I am close to celebrating a silver jubilee of practising HR (yes, I said practising because I do believe that this is one of those arenas where mastery seems to be forever stuck in the horizon) and not a day goes by when I don’t marvel at how much this field has meta-morphed from being professionals who have moved from being perceived as paper-pushers into being acknowledged as transformers. This function is now being hailed as the Brand Ambassador to recruiting talent, Acts as the Conscience of the organisation and of its people, and often, is a Catalyst for Change within people and in the organisation. Every time, I sit and reflect on what makes this function true to its name, I am reminded of this t-shirt I once saw, that stated “HR: The Unofficial Psychologist, Event Planner, Peace Maker, Lawyer, Teacher” . . . I completely agree! 

HR is more than just a person. To me, it is akin to De Bono’s Hats - worn at different times, for different reasons but is a must for EVERYONE in the organisation. 

It is about adopting the thinking that makes for a life-role. Over the years, I have realised that if one imbibes the skills of each of those terms that I found on that t-shirt, those skills can come in handy at any point of time, in any stage of life and in any situation. Nothing is learnt overnight, and everything takes time but isn’t this how evolution takes place – steady yet consistently constant?

I believe that the ultimate Diversity is in the way people THINK. This is possibly the explanation for why Chartered Accountants and Doctors come in all sizes, shapes and genders! That resumes can be sorted and filtered purely based on key words but must be read from the eyes of EXPERIENCE and then JUDGED as potential talent (or not). That events need to be dealt with in real time, with a BALANCE of the merit of the situation and with possible precedence for the future and never be remiss that contexts are ever evolving. That there will always be grey areas and the INTERPRETATION of these areas should be DETERMINED by a balance between principles of justice and the need of the hour. That Laws were meant to be the foundation for a CHANGE in behaviour rather than just sections on a Gazette that require to be adhered to. It isn’t that HR Analytics never existed. Reports and MIS and their interpretations always existed - they were probably not named with such savoir-faire! 

At the heart of the matter, it boils down to one element – People. People bring their thoughts with them – and as is human, with their own share of biases, preferences, skills, knowledge and experience. Who would best know what is required for a solution, for a goal, for a path to be followed? The answer is simple, other People. People who have probably or possibly done it before. People who have seen the tides and know what is required.  People who have visualised it. People who believe in it and therefore whose spirits are tied with the dream, the goal, the hope.

It isn’t news that technology is now a way of our everyday life. That the term ’being connected’ does not necessarily mean the same to the different generations that walk this planet. Artificial Intelligence or AI has been doing the rounds for some time now but is often met with paradoxical reactions – with people believing the best and the worst of it. Thoughts often bounce between efficiency and job-losses, personal and impersonal. There is no denying that it is the next leap in transcending the human-machine bridge. While there are aspects in the HR function that this signifies enhancement and efficiency, the underlying truth is that there are certain capabilities or characteristics that only the human mind can still bring to the table. 

The crux is - even the big world of Artificial Intelligence has Actual Intelligence working in the background to create, develop, modify, improve and enhance it. That’s the beauty of the way of life today – the fact that Technology can co-exist with People. The intelligence remains in the choice that we make – what do we fall back on when and where. 

So yes, it is okay to be a little Old Fashioned sometimes, because there is never a shortcut to experience!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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