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Euroviews. AI could be your ideal work colleague

AI-powered android works together with a human, illustration
AI-powered android works together with a human, illustration Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Dr Leonie Gerhards, King's Business School, King’s College London, Dr Alexander Coutts, Schulich School of Business, York University, Dr Zahra Murad, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, University of Portsmouth
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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

AI isn't just an assistant — it's a colleague who is available 24/7, processes huge amounts of data, brings out your objective side, and doesn’t let you down, Dr Leonie Gerhards, Dr Alexander Coutts, and Dr Zahra Murad write.

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Discussions about artificial intelligence and robotics often focus on its role as a tool, enhancing our existing skills and adding to our efficiency. Whether in movies, pop culture or according to your own Alexa, artificial intelligence and robotics are presented as an assistant, working for you. 

As AI grows wiser, we dream of the tasks it will soon undertake on our behalf. With each robotic thumb made, we revel in the vision of machines attending to our every need. 

We have yet to fully grasp that AI and robotics can be much more than that. They may very well one day be equal counterparts and even reflect our flaws back at us.

The integration of AI and robotics in the workplace is already revolutionising team dynamics. What was once just a ‘team’, is fast becoming a human-only team or an AI-enhanced team.

Human-only teams. Are you ready?

We undertook research aimed at investigating the persistence of self-serving bias in the face of objective performance feedback. As economic researchers, these insights are crucial for improving models of decision-making that can (and do) inform policies and practices.

Ultimately, we aimed to help explain and address the ways people maintain overly positive self-views, impacting, among other things, risk-taking, financial decisions, career and professional choices, and team dynamics.

Specifically, we examined how these biases manifest in human-only teams, but also how that changes when workers are paired with robotics (a simple program with different performance probabilities).

Integrating robotics into team environments can reduce the biased responses to objective performance feedback that we've shown to be present in human-only teams.
People work on computers and move about the office in San Francisco, CA, November 2018
People work on computers and move about the office in San Francisco, CA, November 2018Lea Suzuki/San Francisco Chronicle via AP

We found that workers are more likely to twist their beliefs to feel better about themselves and their work when other people's actions are involved. In these scenarios, there's more room for them to see things in a way that makes them look good.

Our results also showed that these workers had a low inclination to switch teammates, which could have helped them to learn more about their true skills.

However, when in a team with robotics, our results showed that performance feedback provided to these human-robot collaboration leads to more accurate evaluations of their own abilities compared to human-only teams. 

In examining why this may be, we discovered that individuals are less inclined to distort their beliefs about their abilities when working alongside robotics. This reduction in overconfidence helps them make more accurate judgments about their own and their robot teammate’s performance, providing more accurate evaluations. 

Rev(AI)talised Performance

Participants in our study were more likely to revise their initial performance estimates accurately when collaborating with a robot. Integrating robotics into team environments can reduce the biased responses to objective performance feedback that we've shown to be present in human-only teams.

This enhanced objectivity allows us to make better-informed decisions regarding the delegation of work tasks and individual roles, eventually leading to more effective and efficient teams.

More generally, our study highlights the importance of fostering a culture of openness to feedback.

In environments where feedback is valued, employees are more likely to engage critically and constructively with performance assessments. But with constrained budgets, increased pressures, and higher targets, this is often easier said than done. 
A man looks out of the window of an office building in Frankfurt, December 2022
A man looks out of the window of an office building in Frankfurt, December 2022AP Photo/Michael Probst

In environments where feedback is valued, employees are more likely to engage critically and constructively with performance assessments. But with constrained budgets, increased pressures, and higher targets, this is often easier said than done. 

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Managers should also consider periodically reshuffling teams to gain a more comprehensive understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses.

Accurate performance assessments are crucial for identifying areas where employees can improve and for recognising those who consistently perform well.

By encouraging more frequent and effective reshuffling of team members, managers can ensure that the right people are collaborating while also identifying recurring issues more easily.

AI work-bestie?

How far away are we until our favourite work colleague is an AI? Or when teams are made up of AIs and managed by one human? With fast ongoing progress, this idea isn't far off.

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As companies invest more in AI, we might soon be working alongside AI colleagues much more often, and therefore, understanding the long-term impacts of human-robot collaboration on team dynamics and performance is crucial.

For businesses, this means embracing AI not merely as a tool for automation but as a valuable partner in fostering a more productive work environment in which workers can learn more from the performance feedback they receive.

After all, compared to working with a human partner, AI's perceived reliability makes it harder to assign blame elsewhere, increasing the likelihood of self-reflection when faced with poor outcomes.

AI will change how teams work, making human-AI teams a key part of the future workplace.

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The day when AIs become essential team members is coming soon; it isn't just an assistant — it can be a channel for more accurate assessments, reduced biases, and enhanced performance. It’s a colleague who is available 24/7, processes huge amounts of data, brings out your objective side, and doesn’t let you down...

Are you ready to welcome AI as your next work-bestie?

Dr Leonie Gerhards is a Lecturer in Economics at King's Business School, King’s College London, Dr Alexander Coutts is an Assistant Professor Of Economics at Schulich School of Business, York University, and Dr Zahra Murad is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance at the University of Portsmouth.

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at view@euronews.com to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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