As businesses continue to adopt AI to optimize production, they are also putting their staff at risk as studies have shown a nexus between too much interaction with AI and potential ill-health.
A study by researchers from the American Psychological Association concluded that employees that interact with AI systems regularly are likely to experience loneliness which leads to insomnia.
Published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the research involved participants with different work cultures from the U.S., Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Study cutting across sectors
Lead researcher Pok Man Tang said the research became necessary in light of the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence in manufacturing, education, health, as well as financial services.
“The rapid advancement in AI systems is sparking a new industrial revolution that is reshaping the workplace with many benefits but also some uncharted dangers, including potentially damaging mental and physical impacts for employees,” said Tang.
“Humans are social animals, and isolating work with AI systems may have damaging spillover effects into employees’ personal lives,” Tang added.
In Taiwan, researchers worked with 166 engineers from a biomedical company. They analyzed employees who worked with AI systems about their feeling of loneliness, attachment anxiety, and sense of belonging, according to Eureka Alert.
Co-workers reported that AI-facing employees were helpful while family members spoke of insomnia and alcoholism.
Similar results across experiments
The other three experiments conducted showed similar results. The one conducted in Indonesia with 126 participants from a real estate company had half try to use AI systems as much for three days while the other half stayed away from AI systems.
Results showed that participants experienced insomnia as much as the participants from the Taiwan experiment. The Malaysian and U.S. tests also came to the same conclusion.
While these results might be deemed as evidence and worrisome, the relationship between working with AI and feeling lonely is merely correlational, researchers said. This means it is not always the case that employees who use AI systems will suffer from these conditions.
“Mindfulness programs and other positive interventions also might help relieve loneliness,” said Tang.
“AI will keep expanding so we need to act now to lessen the potentially damaging effects for people who work with these systems, ” added the researcher saying while advocating that developers of AI systems to improve on their sociable features.
AI for business optimization
Other research on the impact of AI adoption on human health show otherwise. A study done in China on manufacturing workers interacting with AI showed that the technology can reduce psychological depression, promoting better mental health for employees.
The study also highlighted the bright side of AI as a tool for enhancing production efficiency and reducing the need for overtime.
According to Bear, AI is a game changer in modern-day societies. It has potential to transform all sectors of the economy from education, to health, music, art and entertainment.
Lawmakers from across the world are working to come up with regulations for the sector. They argue that while AI can be used to optimize production, it also has potential to cause harm to humans. Several industry experts – including Elon Musk – have since signed a letter calling for a halt in AI development, pending a proper regulatory framework.