In almost every industry AI is gathering immense interest as many rush to embrace the possibilities of the new technology Artificial Intelligence.

One definition of technology is “resource that is in reserve, available to be utilised when necessary”. At its most fundamental and simplistic level it could be said that this is what an employee in an organisation amounts to. For example, what is the essential difference between a checkout clerk at the supermarket and an automated checkout bot? If you’ve ever stood “arguing” with an automated checkout about whether or not something has (or hasn’t) been appropriately placed on the bagging area in the exact right way to avoid upsetting it’s unfathomable algorithm you’ll know there is a profound difference.

Just as much as AI can offer us huge advantages in HR, it equally cannot replace sentience.

This transformative technology has already begun to revolutionise some crucial HR processes, from employee onboarding to data analysis and performance management.

Employee onboarding can be streamlined, by automating tasks, such as delivering welcome emails, distributing onboarding materials, and providing interactive training modules. AI simplified and standardised the crucial process of assimilating new employees. Furthermore, AI-powered chatbots, adequately trained, serve as dependable guides, helping newcomers navigate the complexities of their new work environment.

The mastery of data analysis is another area in which AI excels, empowering HR professionals to derive invaluable insights from the vast sea of HR data. By unveiling patterns, trends, and potential risks, AI facilitates decisions with essential information, such as employee turnover, compensation structures, and benefit packages. Additionally, AI-driven solutions bolster compliance and risk management efforts.

But just as AI offers support, information and time savings to HR professionals there are areas it cannot and should not be relied on.

The paper clips maximiser theory is the hypnotical scenario where an AI is programmed to produce as many paper clips as possible. If all stages of production are governed by AI, from resource attribution, to manufacture, to boxing the paperclips up, combined with the ability to learn and self-govern, the AI with greater efficiency, gets better and better at all stages of production, increasing the manufacture of paper clips. Eventually one logical, if horrific outcome, is that the natural resources of the entire planet are taken over to achieve the AI’s goals of creating more and more paper clips.

This example identifies the AI’s skill at optimising outcomes, and its total inability to question if the outcome is a worthy goal, and the difference between information and wisdom, demonstrating exactly why sentience, and more importantly the wisdom of humans, are irreplaceable and essential.

Despite AI’s many benefits, it is crucial to acknowledge its limitations. Here are just a few of the areas where sentience cannot be replaced with an algorithm:

– True empathy, a fundamental aspect of human interaction, cannot be replicated by AI. The ability to understand and respond to complex emotions, listen attentively to employee concerns, and provide genuine support requires human intervention. Emotional intelligence, an essential skill possessed by HR professionals, allowing them to foster positive work environments and effectively manage interpersonal relationships.

– AI’s limitations become glaringly apparent when it comes to nurturing and sustaining a strong company culture. A robust company culture thrives on shared values, collective experiences, emotional connections, and human-to-human interactions. It’s forged through the personal stories of employees, the leadership’s vision and empathy, and the unscripted moments that bond teams together. AI, irrespective of its sophistication, cannot genuinely understand or replicate the nuances of human emotions, morale, or motivation. Nor can it facilitate genuine camaraderie, mentorship, or instil a sense of purpose that resonates on a deeply personal level with employees. Essentially, while AI can provide tools and insights to support company culture, the creation, nurturing, and evolution of that culture requires sentience for it to exist, let alone thrive.

– Building positive relationships with employees, managers, and stakeholders is crucial, not only in HR but across the entire organisation. HR professionals are skilled in networking, building trust, and cultivating collaborative partnerships. Strong relationships help them understand the needs of employees and contribute to a healthy organisational culture.

It seems extremely unlikely that any employee would be loyal to an AI, in the same way they would to their team, and fellow companions.

Critical thinking and communication skills are indispensable in HR roles. HR professionals possess the ability to analyse complex situations, consider multiple perspectives, and make informed judgments that go beyond the logical answers provided by AI. Effective communication, both written and verbal, is another strength that HR professionals bring to the table. While AI can support these areas, it is always necessary to have a human review and finalise important messages or emails. AI can produce a lot of words that seem to make sense but might have no deeper meaning.

Ethical judgement is another aspect where AI falls short. Although AI can be programmed with ethics, ethics are complex, ever-evolving, and deeply rooted in human experiences. Building strong relationships with employees, managers, and stakeholders is critical in HR, and this requires human networking, trust-building, and collaboration.

– Humans possess a unique adaptability that AI lacks, imagination. While AI is programmed based on past learning and input, humans have the capacity to embrace new ideas and technological advancements, ultimately driving innovation and progress. AI can assist HR professionals in their work, making their jobs more efficient, but it will never fully replace the creativity, true imagination and ingenuity that humans bring to the table.

In conclusion, AI undoubtedly offers significant advantages to the field of human resources. It can automate processes, analyse data, and provide valuable support. However, sentience, compassion, caring and that indefinable essence that makes us individuals is irreplaceable.

The human touch, empathy, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, communication skills, ethical judgement, adaptability, and creativity are qualities that AI cannot replicate. By embracing AI where it is useful and relying on their own unique humanity, HR professionals can leverage technology to enhance their work rather than fear its potential impact.

Artificial intelligence won’t take your job, but another human leveraging artificial intelligence might.

Dr Lisa Turner
Dr Lisa Turner
Founder at CETfreedom | + posts

Dr Lisa Turner is the founder of CETfreedom, a spiritual and consciousness awakening organisation, specialising in training professional coaches and practitioners in her signature process Conscious Emotional Transformation, (CET) and is author of CET Yourself Free.