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Kevin Haslam Shares His Final Thoughts and Highlights From CIPD Festival of Work

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This year’s virtual Festival of Work has been 3 days of insight, development and knowledge gained from expert commentators and keynote speakers.

At times it has been uncomfortable listening to racism, diversity and inclusion discussions. John Amaechi, OBE and the salient message of his session, we are all in this together and we have to look at how we interact and develop in our businesses, communities, society and our homes to be inclusive; what are the messages we are hearing, if these are negative towards members of society and how do we work together to move forward and work in a new world where everyone matters?

Living and working in Saudi Arabia; Vision 2030 is helping to realise the aspirations of generations through developing the economy, business, social aspects, and culture for everyone. I see many of my CIPD HR learners developing new skills and outlooks for the new economy of the future with community still at the heart of this transformation and enthusiastic to be part of the change that is happening.

an audience at a conference

The opening keynote today was about how we interact with machines, artificial intelligence (A.I.) with Dr Hannah Fry. This brings new challenges to not only the workplace but our everyday lives. It is remarkable how generations have adapted to this new way of working. How students on our programmes discuss this like it is part of everyday life and do not see machines as a risk. It is seen as a game changer, enhancer with new and innovative ways of working in harmony with machinery and technology of the 21st century.

We are having not only to adapt to current global crisis, COVID-19 which appears to be re surging in some parts of the world, but embedded racism with demonstrations globally demanding change. The type of change that we will see with A.I. will change the working world as we know it. Many of these changes are taking place now and we need to equip our people with the skills and competencies to work in this new world of tech across multi generations and embrace the change to work more effectively.


A woman taking notes in a notebook

Dr Hannah Fry discussed recent research about A.I. and the words that mark us out as human, compassion, love, please, some of the human words including religion, pizza, pairs of words were also tested and groups asked which word they believed came from a human and which from a robot, very interesting discussion and how we think about interaction, the one word people believe comes from a human time and time again is please, something so simple but positively human.

We think of machines as a replacement for humans, however as we know we still recognise that humans and machines see the world differently. We must think about how machines will be used, our differences and how this will fit in to the world of work, you create with one intention and how machines are used sometimes changes on implementation for example:

Mobile phones – the idea for mobile phone services dates back at least to 1947, but the first call was made from the sidewalk outside the Manhattan Hilton in 1973 by Martin Cooper. Martin was a Motorola researcher who called his rival at AT&T Bell Labs to test his new phone. Today there are currently more than 5.08 billion mobiles globally.


There is a gap between how humans view the world and how machines see the world which can cause issues with A.I. For example:

Alvin the self-driving car went hundreds of miles, however when it tried to go over a bridge its’ in-car computer picked up on keeping the grass to the right hand side, so the bridge was not in the A.I. process and the car crashed. (Dr H. Fry 2020) Creating A.I. needs to take in to account bias and social norms to avoid perpetual bias moving forward.

As we move forward in uncertain times we need to keep the conversations going beyond conferences and virtual environments, now more than ever the people profession has an opportunity to be involved at the heart of change and to engage the whole of the workforce and the communities we influence and serve..

As a profession, community, business, society as individuals and partners we need to keep the conversations alive and challenging to change what was the norm to the new world in which we live.

Find out more about Kevin here.

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