People get more value out of robots when they’re forced to use them (really)

Astro Robot in a home

Hullo, friend.

Amazon

Has an enemy ever become your friend?

Did you examine your feelings toward your enemy and decide that perhaps you’d been unfair, too harsh, or even entirely mistaken?

Did you forgive, forget, and conclude that the former enemy really wasn’t so bad after all?

I only ask because it appears humans’ hate affair with robots is over.

Naturally, I exaggerate slightly.

It was more of a fear affair. The robots look mean, scary, and devoid of feelings. The robots are smarter than we are. The robots will take our jobs and turn us into their pets. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak certainly thought this may be the case.

It seems, though, that time has injected nuance into our thinking. We’ve accepted robots for what they are. We’ve even sidled up to them, occasionally.

I judge this from a new report, courtesy of the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group.

Hark at this conclusion: “Sixty-four percent of survey respondents personally derive at least moderate value from using AI.”

Your moderate value may be my extreme value. Could it be that robots are finally finding their place in our society and learning to happily co-exist with our imperfections?

It could. Please imagine that 64% of those whose lives have been enhanced by robots are really happy at work. They claim they’re precisely 3.4 times more satisfied in their jobs as those who say robots don’t help them at all.

I don’t think anyone actually says, “I’m 3.4 times more satisfied than you are,” but that’s the joy of data bringing us this result.

Surely, though, they’re fooling themselves. These robots are making their jobs easier, while secretly planning to take their jobs from them.

Well, 60% of these more than 1,700 management-level respondees have concluded that robots are their co-workers.

Yet the survey throws up another fascinating tidbit. It suggests these 60% of happy campers may, in fact, be marginally delusional. They may have fooled themselves into a trusting situation, when in fact they’re being railroaded into it.

You see, the report offers: “Building trust in AI only doubles the likelihood that individuals will use AI regularly, while mandating its use triples the likelihood.”

I fear some might draw socio-political conclusions from this. I fear I’m drawing conclusions that suggest AI implementation doesn’t quite follow today’s empathetic management guidelines.

But it’s all for your own good. The study’s writers explain: “Requiring AI might lead to begrudging use, but individuals are 1.4 times as likely to get value from AI when organizations require them to use it compared with individuals at organizations that do not mandate its use.”

In essence, then, robots are the friends your parents forced upon you because they thought they’d be good for you. They’re the single people your parents and friends invite to dinner parties, in the hopes you’ll hit it off.

They are, in fact, arranged marriages where your company or parent knows best how to make you happy.

And you will be happy. Or else.

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