The Microsoft 40 Page Report on AI's Effect on the Workplace Just Came Out.
It's looong. Okay 40 pages isn't actually that long if you can read it in 10 minutes or less but even then, busy attorneys don't have a lot of time for catching up on all the latest tech.
My job is to keep you informed of the basics, to give you as much knowledge as you need to understand what's coming at the legal profession. Here's my summary of the January 2024 Microsoft Report on AI's Impact on the Workplace.
Tackling the Knowledge Kaleidoscope: Imagine your workplace knowledge as a vast, colorful mosaic, with pieces scattered everywhere – emails, files, chat messages. It's a bit of a beautiful mess. GenAI can save you from having to figure whether what you need is in a text, email or file somewhere. The moment you need something, it’s there. That’s huge, people.
AI in the Office – It's a People Thing, Too: This part of the report is like a reminder that when we bring AI to the office, we need to consider how it'll be received by people with differing mindsets and beliefs. Some will freak out, others will celebrate and the rest will be somewhere in between. Prepare for each type of reaction in advance and you’ll do much better during the integration of AI to your firm.
AI Tools: Not Just Smart, but Sociable: Ever had a tool or app that just didn't 'get' you? The report points out that AI tools need to be more than brainy – they need to fit into your daily work groove smoothly. If they clash with how you do things, they're about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
The Human-AI Relay Race: Here's the deal – keeping an eye on AI systems is a bit like babysitting a very smart but sometimes mischievous child. You need to be vigilant and ready to jump in when things go sideways. And they will. AI is still glitchy. But it’s also still 100x faster than any associate and can work 24 / 7. The report dives into how this can be a tricky balance to strike, ensuring that humans and AI pass the baton back and forth without dropping it.
The Blame Game in Automation: Picture this: AI's at the wheel, but when it messes up, the human co-pilot gets the blame. This part talks about 'moral crumple zones' – situations where people unfairly catch the heat for AI slip-ups. Like I said, AI is still glitchy. This part of the report calls for smarter, fairer AI systems that play nice with human teammates.
Digital Divide: Who's Riding the AI Wave? Just like in surfing, not everyone's riding the big AI waves. The report shows that AI adoption varies with factors like education and income. It's a heads-up that we need to make sure all ships rise with the tide (not just the yachts). We need to ensure the underprivileged and underrepresented, are educated and have access to AI.
Jobs and AI: The Great Shuffle: Think of GenAI as the new DJs at the job market party, remixing the tunes. Some jobs will get a fresh beat, others might face the music in new ways. Some jobs will be eliminated completely and replaced by AI related replacements. It's a fascinating look at how AI's reshaping what we do and how we do it.
Innovation vs. Automation: The Real Game-Changer: The finale is a thought-provoker. It's not just about robots taking over tasks; it's about sparking new ideas, new jobs, new ways of working. It's not just what AI can do for us, but what we can do with AI.
Shaping the Future of Work: Your Move: Ending on a high note, the report reminds us that the future of work isn't written in the stars – it's in our hands. It's a rallying cry for everyone – techies, leaders, workers – to come together and steer the AI ship in a direction that works for all.
Frederick's Crystal Ball: First off, AI will probably create even further income disparity. At best, it will simply be a matter of unequal access. While people like me will champion the need to help All Ships Rise with the Tide, the mega-rich will do what they always do: Exploit whatever is latest and greatest to their benefit. This does not take a crystal ball to scry. It's become clear to me that 25% or more of all legal-related jobs that will be filled in 2030, don’t exist today. Chief Prompt Engineer, Director of Prompt & Response Data Management, Paralegal Prompt Management and more. Yes as a matter of fact, AI will replace attorneys. A lot of them. That's inevitable. But that's also a decade away. In the meantime and as I always say, it's survival of the fittest. Time to evolve, people. Everything is already changing and there is no middle ground. You're either ahead of this or you're falling behind.
Frederick Shelton is the CEO of Shelton & Steele, a national legal recruiting and consulting firm. He can be reached at email@example.com