A curse or a blessing?
When I think of a founder I advised last year, I actually have to say clearly: a blessing! In the field of logistics, he developed software based on AI algorithms that ensures companies an improvement in material availability in production of up to 40%. This is exactly the kind of engineers and creative founders Germany needs in order to be able to produce attractively again.
Or if you have tested the chatbot “ChatGPT” from OpenAI, then you know immediately that there is a very high potential here to make our lives easier and to be able to go to a new level in development. The text-based dialog system with artificial intelligence answers queries in an impressive response time and can, for example, correct texts or even generate them itself after a short description. The chatbot can even find errors in programmed software code and much more.
As a supra-regional service provider, we always keep ourselves up to date and test new “tools” that could bring benefits for us or our customers. Here we find many positive things that help us make our daily work more efficient and reduce costs. For example, we completely “intelligently” digitized an electrical company and used grant funding to do it. A blessing for the company, which is now very well equipped for the future.
The negative side of automation
But unfortunately, there are also other – very negative – effects of software automations that are supposed to be based on AI or intelligent software, according to the manufacturers.
For example, we tried out a new algorithm that is supposed to be able to identify the missing specialists via AI, e.g. in social media, and encourage them to apply for our vacancies. Unfortunately, this tool was not able to generate qualified applicants. Our own campaigns with our standard algorithms without AI, as well as direct approaches, have been more successful so far.
Another impact is that you get messages through insufficiently thought-out algorithms, which only steal our time. For example, I was personally contacted on LinkedIn as follows:
Your LinkedIn profile, experience and skills are impressive and I hope you are open to new opportunities.
For ** Germany we are looking for a Project Engineer (*) EMSR…… as soon as possible.”
And then someone writes me in the same portal a few days later:
“Hello Mr. Wanner,
I saw that you are working at Wanner GmbH in the exciting industry of car parts and accessories. I am also active in that field at *****, would be very happy to network here.
Anyone who knows my CV and Wanner GmbH will be surprised at this moment. Because why am I – managing director and owner of a successful personnel and management consultancy, who has been the sole managing director of companies with up to 500 employees and has been self-employed for almost 10 years now – being written to with such inappropriate messages? Quite simply. For LinkedIn in particular, there is AI software that promises to identify and target exactly the meaningful people. So currently there is also a boom in startups that want to revolutionize acquisition. I’m sure you also receive such offers every week. And since we advised a customer from the segment of car parts and accessories a few years ago and also received references on this, the software just also made me a professional in this area and wrote to me.
Other effects on interpersonal communication
However, these examples are not only found on the Internet and social media, but also spread to the telephone. For example, we had to deal with ping calls for several weeks. We were contacted up to 5 times a day by different numbers. If you pick up the phone, there is no caller on the other end, but the software automatically hangs up. A dialer that would like you to call back and pay for the expensive international call forwarding. Changing numbers make it difficult to block the number in the telephone system. The intelligent automatic dialers are programmed to dial at different times with different numbers. The companies are selected on the basis of their international as well as national contacts and other criteria.
In addition, there is an increase in acquisition activities by call centers acting for personnel leasing companies, for example. We regularly receive calls from these centers because we place a large number of job ads in up to 50 portals at the same time. We must have slipped up in the AI software’s rankings, so the software thinks we need help. Then a call center employee calls and says he can help us find the necessary personnel. During the conversation, it usually turns out very quickly that the caller hasn’t informed himself about us and therefore can’t help us, since we are a personnel consulting company ourselves.
We need the human component!
In summary, any existing technology can be used in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, not always to the benefit of people and companies and not always with due regard for privacy and data protection.
And so it is with AI. This type of intelligent automation is already being used in many areas, but in our opinion it is only useful and serious if a real human checks, evaluates and, if necessary, corrects the results.
For example, an estimated 70% of automated LinkedIn queries may hit the right contact, but the 30% of wrong queries can permanently damage one’s reputation and annoy contacts in this network.
In addition, chatbots such as ChatGPT provide answers within seconds, which at first glance sound correct and plausible, but are often far from being so. Therefore, these must always be checked for authenticity and confirmed by your own research.
This is also the case with call centers, for example. Through automation, numerous potential new customers are addressed without much research effort. But due to the lack of verification, competitors are also called, among other things, where trouble is then pre-programmed and time is robbed on both sides. A simple check of the website would already provide clarity.
In this respect, we think that you have to be open to new developments and also observe them and – if useful – should certainly also use them. Because disruption will happen, either with us or without us. But still, in the end, it should be people who test things and also release them. Furthermore, contacts and business always develop between people who, in addition to knowledge, also bring in emotions, empathy and creativity.
As Albert Einstein once said:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited”