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Managed by a bot?

A few weeks ago I took part in a panel session on the subject of The Digital Workplace organised by Sydney University. During that event I asked the sixty or so people in the audience the following question: If your organisation had clear and transparent policies, you had agreed your own goals, and you didn’t require direct, day to day supervision, would you be happy interacting with a chat bot rather than your manager—more than half the room put their hands up!


We are getting used to relating to automated systems. They are becoming more sophisticated all the time. We can sometimes enjoy the experience and it can feel surprisingly engaging. I even say sorry and thank you to Siri!


In the normal course of work many people don’t see much of their manager. Too often the experience is frustrating and unhelpful. The predictability and transparency of automated systems could potentially be fairer and more effective than an incompetent, prejudiced, or bullying manager.


It is going to be really interesting to see, over the next decade or so, how far automated systems can go, and where we draw the line between them and our “real” managers.


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