The fear of an artificial intelligence takeover has manifested itself in both novels and films repeatedly over the last century – basically ever since technology began to develop in the modern age. As technological advancements continue to rise, anxiety surrounding the idea has become more widespread and probable than ever before. Perhaps this fear isn’t totally unreasonable; not in the sense that mankind will become extinct, but instead a situation in which some of our jobs will. No need to panic; this could be a change that benefits us all.

Over the past decade, two models have been established as representations of the ideal talent pipeline: job-centric and candidate-centric. As shown in our research, the job market is shifting (at least for Best-in-Class companies) from focusing on the former to the latter. 

Traditionally, a job-centric pipeline has been the rule. A position opens, candidates apply, and the one who fits the role best is offered the job. This model relies on the “self-relevancy” of a potential employee. In other words, the candidate is responsible for understanding the position available and making sure that their skills align with it. Through this model, the pool of talent is only examined when a job is available, leaving the chance that potential leading candidates who could be successful in a different role within the company are overlooked or unavailable during that small window.

A candidate-centric pipeline, once the exception, has now become the most current among Best-in-Class companies who, as we know, are most likely to attract and retain top talent. The candidate-centric pipeline focuses on the long-term goals and culture of a company rather than the short-term goal of hiring a less skilled candidate to fill an empty position as soon as possible. By creating an attractive brand and culture within their business, Best-in-Class companies attract candidates who align with the brand itself and have potential to fill different roles as they become available. Focusing on the potential employee rather than the position available offers a continuous potential for growth and opportunity across the workforce as a whole. As shown in the table below, there are specific attributes that leading candidates look for when choosing an employer:

So, how does Artificial Intelligence joining the workforce fit in with all of this? In their article How Will AI Change Work? Here Are 5 Schools of Thought, Harvard Business Review discussed five possible future scenarios where humans, as well as Artificial Intelligence, could co-exist in the workplace.

“The Utopians Position” seems far more feasible than its name would suggest according to our research. As HBR describes it, this workforce would exist as such:

Intelligent machines will take on even more work, but the result will be unprecedented wealth, not economic decline. AI and computing power will advance in the next two decades to achieve “the singularity” — when machines will be able to emulate the workings of the human brain in its entirety. Human brains will be “scanned” and “downloaded” to computers and billions of replicated human brains will do most of the cognitive work, while robots will do all the heavy lifting. Economic output could double every three months. The singularity may even lead to a world where little human labor is required, a universal income program covers basic needs, and people apply their talents to meaningful pursuits.

What HBR defines as “meaningful pursuits” may be geared towards hobbies or philanthropic ambitions, but does it have to be limited to this? What if this could be harnessed into the professional setting? If the number one goal of potential leading candidates is to see relevance in their work, a workplace environment where Artificial Intelligence and humans work together could kindle the creative fire that top candidates are seeking.

In order to create a business world where this exists, there would of course have to be some limits. Artificial Intelligence would take on the menial tasks that once hindered top employees, giving them room to grow and accomplish pursuits that would have previously been put on the backburner due to lack of time or energy. This could also create a circumstance in which “less talented” employees could focus on their capabilities and play a more important role than what have been previously understood as attainable. Furthermore, it could inspire a situation where top employees could take on a mentor role to those who have traditionally been viewed as lower level, cultivating relationships within the workplace that result in a more engaging and satisfying environment. A sort of collective intelligence could emerge where employees from all tiers could collaborate using their unique individual strengths to ensure the company is a well-oiled machine working at its utmost potential. The skills of lower level employees that were once dormant could be uncovered and implemented. The talent pipeline would no longer use the job-centric model, because there would be a role for everyone in a company whose culture aligns with them. Too good to be true? Maybe. Impossible? Not even close.

Although all of this is “possible,” there is no contesting the simple truth that sooner or later, Artificial Intelligence will have a greater function within the workplace. The future holds a lot of uncertainty when it comes to this subject. However, it would be impetuous of companies to overlook the inevitable: Artificial Intelligence will be playing a larger role in the workforce and we must be prepared to utilize it in a way that benefits us all.


Jessica Burns is a student at UMASS Boston majoring in English with a concentration in Professional Writing/New Media, in addition to minoring in Communications.

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