There is hope for the future. Machines, as efficient as they are cold and as costly as they are profitable, are already here. And most of what we are learning about them is that the formula that works best is one in which the machine not only does not completely replace the human being, but complements him. To stop demonizing the new will help us to embrace it more quickly and we will all benefit from it. We must learn to coexist with new technologies. Neither the human being is so easy to replace nor the machine so ready to do so on a large scale. But we only have to go out of our homes to see that the future is already now.

The purchase.

When I finished shopping, I approached the machine. He spoke to me politely, perhaps a little cold. He asked me to choose a language, to pass the products and told me the price of each one. Every now and then she interrupted the process and told me that we had to wait for a manager. A woman came over and quickly swiped a card through a slot, tapped some codes on the screen and the machine recovered the account and speech. When she finished scanning all the products, she asked me what method of payment I wanted to use, swiped the card and gave me my receipt. I don’t seem to remember her thanking me or saying goodbye. She was cold to the last moment. That, yes, except for the small block, she was quite efficient. Of course, all the work was done by me: removing the products from the cart, activating the machine, swiping the products, bagging them, paying, let’s say on a scale of 1 to 10 the machine did 1 and I did 9. 

El journey.

That same night I was flying from Barajas, terminal 4. In front of the check in counters, a legion of “auto check in” terminals. Around them there were 4 or 5 people, from the airline, as support for those who were not sure how to use the machine. I put my passport in the reader and it did not work. I turned it over, back and forth, looked at the instructions again, but it didn’t work. A man in his fifties, wearing a shirt and tie, came to assist me. I told him that the reader had not worked for me and the two men next to me. “That’s odd,” he said, “they’ve been working fine all day.” I resumed the check in, but this time with the option of my pager number and then yes, the machine responded. Mute, it just kept advancing steps in the process through the screen. No hello, no thank you, no please. It was quite efficient, except for the fact that the passport reader was not working properly. Then I had to take the suitcase ticket, put it on and take the suitcase to another counter to send it to the belly of the plane, after going through the guts of the airport. Again, I did it all myself. 

The food.

Having avoided the queues, it must be said, I saved time and was then able to go for a chicken wrap. At the entrance of the restaurant there were some screens, on which I could choose everything I wanted, even the method of payment. Once the order was finished, the machine spit out a ticket with the number 31 and a few seconds later I heard a clear, direct, human cry: “treintayunooooo”. At last a human being was entering the process, not to make up for the machines, but as part of it. She told me to wait and watch for a screen, that the screen would let me know when it was ready. Behind her I could see part of the kitchen, and I could see how machines and people coexisted in the preparation of the orders. Here, in this case, I had to do almost nothing, except order, pay, pick up, eat and then separate the remains to throw them in the corresponding garbage cans, because of this recycling thing. Almost nothing?

The job.

When we talk about the future of technology in the workplace, what are we talking about? Machines are already here and they are already occupying jobs. They are already part of our professional and personal lives. Since this phenomenon is so powerful, and still in its infancy, the need for the human factor to make a difference is re-emerging. Probably the most necessary skill to have in the digital era is to remain human. Which leads us to ask ourselves, how do we select talent in this age of machines, artificial intelligence and automation?
I read in the press that the use of algorithms and production tools will make it possible to determine the success of a job candidate before they even come into contact with the recruiter. It is no news to say that the selection processes and the way we look for jobs are changing. While this phenomenon is only expanding, I can’t find (perhaps, dear reader, you can help me find it) any serious studies that support this trend.
Depending on the country where each candidate lives, the chances of having a more or less developed digital footprint is so variable that there is no pattern across the board. These candidates spend much more time offline than online. Let’s say in a ratio, depending on the location, of 9 to 1, or at best 8 to 2. Although digitization is unstoppable, just as automation is unstoppable, online is still very virgin to determine a complete, contrasted and reliable profile of people. This is why I keep asking myself: how do algorithms know and select a person who only shares a part of his or her personal or professional life on the Internet? I will come back to this issue in a moment.
I also read that an algorithm could be 50% more accurate than man in the selection process. We are going to give technology a sense space in very massive selection processes. For example, I read that Google receives more than two million resumes per year. The machine can make some first filters, but knowing that the eye of the machine only sees the online, aren’t they leaving a lot of talent on the way, many people who in the online only reflect a little bit of what they are, what they know, what they have done and what they can do? Some companies even use chatbots that help recruiters to discriminate in large amounts of resumes and job application, When a candidate applies for the position the chatbot is presented the start the conversation poses some questions to check that the candidate is qualified for the position. This is an interesting step, because a two-way interaction is established, there is a dialogue. The on and the off are closer.

The brands.

In the United States approximately 85% of job applications fall into a black hole and applicants never even receive a response. Brands are also built on these details. In how they capture talent, in how they respond to talent that does not fit them and above all in the forms that make the brand culture tangible.
We live in a complex era of the internet and especially social media. Tech giants have been sitting in the U.S. Senate to answer for such complicated issues as Russian interference, fake news, fake accounts, manipulation, attack on democracy and so on. Members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism was tasked with grilling tech companies about the scale of Russian interference on their platforms before, during and after the 2016 U.S. election. But Russia is (only?) part of the problem. Executives, not CEOs, from Google, Facebook and Twitter have had to live it. And if, as many experts say, “everyone on the Internet lies,” how can the algorithm discern the truth from the lie? How does it filter out what that person says they are from what they really are?

The people.

Returning to “human resources”, I also read that artificial intelligence will make it possible to manage hiring with a smaller margin of error, and I also read that it can sharpen the focus of selection processes to reduce failure rates. The world of talent (what is a brand without its people?) seems to be facing a wonderful future. Will it be so? And in case the fight for talent becomes more and more intense, where are those people who work in activities that have not allowed them to build and develop their digital footprint? Let’s talk about services, agriculture, livestock, energy, and so on and so forth.
Going back to the beginning of this article, today I still believe that digital is only useful to filter (with a variable margin of error, depending on the degree of lying in the resumes. Do they all lie?) large volumes but when it comes to people with a relevant impact for the company, there is nothing that can replace the face, the look, the presence, the body language, the empathy, the social skills. And isn’t the people on the customer service team strategic? Of course, large corporations with hundreds of thousands of employees may not end up changing their mindset: it’s not about hiring fast, it’s about making the right choice. And machines can be supportive, but they cannot replace the human factor.
Oussama Khatib, a professor at Stanford University, said that robots have been in the economy for some time now, being fast and accurate, especially in the manufacturing industry. We already have the robot inside our homes that does cleaning and cooking tasks. Now we are in the phase that brings robots closer to humans. This director of the Stanford Robotics lab says that now it is a matter of giving machines the skills to interact with the environment on their own by having the capabilities. To put an end to the fear of robots is a natural evolution, it is part of progress and for example what happens in airports there are less staff and machines are everywhere. Clearly there have been jobs that thanks to machines have eliminated tiring, repetitive and in many cases even unhealthy tasks. But leaving the selection of talent to the robot can only have (at least for the moment) a negative impact on the economy. Human beings have intuition and experience, and human work is unlikely to be replaced in the near future. We should not automate everything, but rather think more about the indirect benefits that robots produce and how to add them to the human team, not to replace it.

The future.

I have read in the blog that “many fear a future plagued by machines without any autonomy that respond to the orders of a greater brain, but unfortunately those machines subtly programmed by a greater brain are already here”. Technology is extraordinary and progress has no brake, what is requested is not only to humanize this digital future but to give back to the person the value it has. Not only to assist the machine when it has a problem (what irony) but so that the humanization of brands is not bogged down in an interactive terminal as efficient and cold as the others.

Machines, for the moment, do not have unions, they are not absent, they do not get sick, they do not complain, they do not need motivation, nor recognition, nor do they need to belong to something greater than themselves. At the same time, smiles, empathy, sensitivity and reaction to situations that have not been pre-programmed remain human territory. For me it is clear that the battle is not between humans and machines, the battle is how to take advantage of the best of each one so that they add up in the construction of the best experience for the customer and the best results for the company.
We are witnessing how an effective, efficient and digitized future is being built, let’s not forget the human.
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