IBM is paving the way for a future in which robots can critique your mistakes before you make them, as it's taught its Watson artificial intelligence (AI) to make predictions about employees' future performance.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Watson Analytics gathers data based on IBM workers' experiences and projects and figures out the skills and qualities they might have to offer the company in the future.
The AI also takes information from IBM's databases to find out if those workers have boosted their skills. It then serves a performance rating up to managers who can look at the score and decide what pay, bonuses and promotions the employees might be up for.
You'd be forgiven for screaming 'dystopia' at the top of your voice at the idea of having your future success determined by some smart code and cloud computing power. But...
IBM has found that the tech actually helps its human workers. There are nearly 400,000 employees at IBM, which means a lot of data for HR folks to work through. So having an AI system that can take care of some of the tedious work is arguably not a bad idea.
And IBM reckons such an AI system will encourage workers to do more to boost their skillsets.
That being said, AI often proves that it's not great at general thinking; rather, it's good at following models it's been trained upon, which often leads to embarrassing and pseudo-racist faux pas. So there's probably no need to choke on your poo water, Mr Gates.
However, IBM noted that this use of Watson had a 96 per cent accuracy rate in predicting workers' future performance when compared with internal analysis work carried out by HR folks.
As such, if Watson does prove itself to be the workplace Mystic Meg, then, somewhat ironically, HR staff could find themselves out of a job, having been replaced by the Watson AI.
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