Testing Beliefs and Boosting Teamwork: How Work Experience Influences Human-AI Partnerships

by | Nov 4, 2023

In today’s rapidly changing digital world, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace has become a topic of interest and concern. Many people worry that AI will replace human workers and make their skills and experience useless. However, a new study published in the INFORMS journal Management Science challenges this idea and shows the relationship between work experience and AI use.

Contrary to common belief, the study titled “Friend or Foe? Teaming Between Artificial Intelligence and Workers with Variation in Experience” argues that AI will not make people lose their jobs. It reveals that employees with more experience in specific tasks can actually use AI to be more productive. The study, done by researchers who created an AI system for medical coding in a public company, explains how humans and AI can work together.

The study’s findings are interesting. It turns out that older workers, even with their experience, benefit less from AI compared to younger workers. This is not because of their age, but because experienced workers are more sensitive to AI’s flaws. These senior workers, who have more responsibilities and care deeply about their organizations, hesitate to rely on AI because they see risks.

“One of the researchers says, ‘Our findings show that the lower productivity boost from AI among senior workers comes from their higher sensitivity to AI’s flaws, which makes them trust it less.'”

But there’s more to the story. The research also looks at two types of work experience that affect human-AI collaboration: narrow experience based on doing many tasks and broad experience based on seniority. Each type of experience plays a different role in working with AI.

Employees with more task-based experience get big benefits from using AI. It helps them be more productive by complementing their skills and expertise instead of replacing them. This finding challenges the idea that AI is a threat to human workers and shows that it can actually help them do their best.

On the other hand, new workers with less task experience struggle to use AI. They don’t have enough experience with different tasks, so they can’t take full advantage of AI. But as they gain more experience over time, they become better at using AI. This shows the importance of giving continuous training and development opportunities to employees so they can navigate the digital world and benefit from AI.

The findings of this study are important for business leaders. They show that understanding how work experience affects employee interaction with AI is crucial. By recognizing the different ways experience and AI work together, organizations can develop strategies that maximize AI’s benefits while addressing the concerns of senior employees.

The research team advises, “While AI definitely makes people more productive, we need to consider the specific needs and views of senior workers. Building trust in AI among senior employees and addressing their concerns about its flaws are key to successful collaboration between humans and AI.”

As industries use AI more and more, understanding the complexities of work experience becomes important. Organizations need to bridge the gap between younger and older employees by encouraging open communication and creating training programs that meet the different needs of each group.

Using AI in the workplace is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires finding the right balance between human workers and AI technology. By using AI’s power while also valuing the contributions of experienced workers, organizations can make the most of human-AI collaboration.

In conclusion, the impact of work experience on human-AI collaboration is not simple. The findings of this study challenge common beliefs and show how complex integrating AI into the workforce can be. With a better understanding of how work experience affects AI use, organizations can successfully navigate this digital transformation, empower their employees, and unlock AI’s full potential. The future of work is not about humans against AI, but about humans and AI working together to achieve great results.