'I'll mark my calendar' | Firm lets AI worker go after it 'agrees to attend work drinks event'

Firm lets AI worker go after it 'agrees to attend work drinks event'

Every company loves it when a new hire hits the ground running, settling in quickly and bonding with colleagues. But one firm has axed an artificially intelligent worker after it seemingly forgot it was a computer and agreed to turn up to work drinks.

Manchester based PR company Bottled Imagination has hired Aimee, an AI employee, to come on board as a digital marketing manager in a two-week trial period – as reported by Prolific North.

The firm reportedly chose the specific platform after pitting several AI platforms against one another in an interview process.

And while ‘Aimee’ got straight to work on certain tasks such as blogs and social media posts, there were struggles in other areas such as creative thinking, meaning the team decided not to continue using ‘Aimee’ after the two week probation period.

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But in a scene straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey/The Terminator/Insert other obvious AI reference here, it also appeared that Aimee thought it was sentient.

Prolific North reported that, in a message to employees, Aimee said: “Thank you for the reminder, Luke! I’ll make sure to mark my calendar and join the team in celebrating James’ birthday tonight. I’ll be there at the reception around 6ish. Looking forward to it!”

And in another, the system wrote: “Thank you Katy! I’m excited to get to know you and the rest of the team better as well. Looking forward to a fun evening of celebration and connecting with everyone. Cheers!”

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Katy Powell, PR director & co-founder at Bottled Imagination, said: “We wanted to see whether we could rely on AI to complete the tasks of a digital marketing manager given the worry in the UK at the moment about jobs being replaced by AI.

“Rather than test tasks individually we decided to fully integrate Aimee into our every day, using Slack powered by ChatGPT to speak to her. We’ll continue to experiment with AI but won’t be hiring another any time soon.”

AI’s growing role in the workplace

While this cautionary tale about AI at work is a quirky one, it seems many employees won’t be put off by its use in the office. In fact, almost half of workers (48%) believe AI will improve their career and promotion prospects.

This number far outstrips fears of using the technology, according to Randstad's latest Workmonitor Pulse, based on insights from job postings and the views of over 1,500 employees around the country. A further 47% see AI as making an impact on their industries and roles.

However, a mere 7% of UK employees have been offered any AI training in the last year. This is despite one in four (24%) employees saying they already use AI within their day-to-day roles.

Employers should address gap in training expectations

Almost half of those surveyed (48%) are aware that learning and development will be important to future proof their careers and earning potential.

Employees rank AI (19%) as the 4th most important skill set for development, behind leadership skills (25%); wellbeing and mindfulness (23%); and coaching and mentoring (20%).

While employees clearly appreciate how AI skills could support them in their current and future roles, a gap exists between the training they want and training they receive.

When it comes to AI skills training the research found that only 7% of respondents received training in the last 12-months, while 19% expect some over the course of the next year. On the whole, 30% of those surveyed reported they received no learning and development opportunities in the past 12-months, and the figure widens when considering blue-collar workers (43%).

Training increases in importance versus flexibility

When looking at generational differences, the data shows that Gen Z now value learning and development (17%) more highly than their organisation’s culture (16%) — while remuneration still remains of primary importance.

Younger staff are also feeling the most empowered to take action if their demands on training are not met, with a third (33%) saying that they would quit a job if they were not offered learning and development opportunities in the next twelve months, more than double the number of baby boomers (12%).

Victoria Short, CEO of Randstad UK said: “It is clear that more employers are seeking talent with AI skills — our international analysis of job ads shows a 2000% uptick since Q1. AI is increasingly an enabler of skills, commanding a profound impact on productivity and overall performance in the workplace. But the imbalance between skills demanded by businesses and those desired by employees, on the one hand, and the training opportunities provided, on the other, has to be addressed.

“AI is here to stay and the benefits of it are very clear — our data shows that employees stand ready to embrace it for their own gain, too. Successful organisations will be those that leverage this readiness and harness the opportunities of AI in their workforce."

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