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AI Fears and How to Address Them


The business news is filled with stories about how artificial intelligence (AI) is affecting and will continue to affect the workplace going forward. This progress has contributed to a general sense of unease that robots will take over the business tasks.

Types of Artificial Intelligence

Following are four different kinds of AI:

  • Reactive AI: has no memory and cannot learn; only responds to different stimuli.
  • Limited memory: uses memory to learn and improve its responses (e.g., AI applications that use facial recognition will improve its accuracy over time).
  • Theory of mind: understands the needs of other intelligent entities by interacting with them and discerning their needs, emotions, beliefs and thought processes.
  • Self-aware AI: has evolved to the point at which the level of self-awareness is similar to that of the human brain.

Currently, only reactive and limited AI are in use today. Self-awareness, the ultimate goal of AI, may never happen and is at least several decades away. Nevertheless, the fear surrounding AI is real, and business-owners need to address these concerns as they incorporate AI into their processes and procedures.

Fears Pertaining to AI

The fears people are experiencing are based, in large part, on the fear of change and how those changes are likely to affect them personally. AI has a special set of fears attached. These fears are supported by media portrayals (particularly movies) painting the picture of AI taking over the world. That likely won’t happen in the real world , but in the workplace, AI is changing how jobs are performed. Company leaders need to proactively address those fears:

  • Lack of understanding. We can’t see AI working. There are no screen shots or slideshows showing us how it works, but we are expected to abide by its decisions. This is unsettling, particularly when things go wrong. Suppose, for example, someone is denied a cutting-edge medical treatment because the insurer’s algorithm didn’t consider the insured’s specific situation. Ensuring that there is a way to override an AI-based decision is key to gaining trust in the system. In our example, the override would be made by a medical professional.
  • Fear of mistakes. AI is only as accurate as the algorithms on which is based, which means there are always built-in biases. Inevitably, there will be times when the results should be questioned. Responsible company leaders need to build in procedures to monitor these biases and address them both in the algorithm and at the human level.
  • Privacy fears. Users may be afraid that AI can use an identifier to determine who they are. This fear is not unrealistic. Data anonymity is a concern in many areas, especially when a particularly large data breach occurs. Companies can address this concern by implementing stronger security controls and encrypting data.
  • Fear of job loss. This might be the most common fear as AI is introduced into the workplace, and it is legitimate. Although new technologies may eliminate some jobs, they also create new ones. This will involve retraining, but new jobs will emerge to support and maintain new technology.

The fear of humans losing control is at the core of all these concerns. By proactively addressing this fear and letting your team know there will always be human oversight and a willingness to continuously fix glitches that arise, you can help your team accept AI in the workplace. 

We are focused on your success. If you need assistance or have any questions about the information shared in this newsletter, please call your CironeFriedberg professional. You can reach us by phone at (203) 798-2721 (Bethel), (203) 366-5876 (Shelton), or (203) 359-1100 (Stamford), or email us at

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