On March 20, the Wisconsin State Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy held a hearing on digital disruption entitled, "Artificial intelligence and other disruptive digital technologies, and their impact on Wisconsin businesses, workforce needs, educational programming." WBA, as a co-founder of the new grassroots organization Advancing AI Wisconsin, has been active in the digital disruption space from the beginning. During the hearing, WBA was given the opportunity to provide introductions to the speakers, setting the stage for how the state and small businesses can incorporate and adapt to new technologies.

Representative Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) chairs the Committee on Jobs and the Economy and has taken a proactive approach to the implementation of technology in Wisconsin, so the state's business community can understand the implications and plan for success.

The hearing was almost entirely supported by testimony from Advancing AI Wisconsin. Advancing AI Wisconsin is a grassroots initiative to increase awareness of a set of technologies often referred to as "digital disruption technologies" and their impact on Wisconsin businesses, workforce needs, educational programming, and the state overall. Its membership has grown to 80 individuals and organizations over the past few months. Advancing AI Wisconsin is supported by trade associations (like WBA), economic development organizations, policymakers, and portions of the K-12 and higher education community.

Key concepts discussed at the hearing included formulating questions around defining a company posture, critical opportunities, and how to prepare for disruptive technologies.

Curate of Madison and Breakthrough Fuel of Green Bay are two companies currently working with machine learning technologies called on during the hearing to illustrate examples of how small business can access these types of technologies through affordable means.

Creating Leadership, Organizational Readiness, and Workforce Opportunity

Workforce leadership, readiness, and opportunity is also driving participation in Advancing AI Wisconsin, specifically the implementation curve for adoption of new technology as a workforce supplement. It isn't a matter of how many jobs will be replaced; it is a matter of how many jobs we can't fill right now and how we can increase productivity to get the work done. The worker shortage has led to a transition to a "robotic" workforce, and it hasn't appeared out of nowhere.

Growth has existed in the last three years:

  • In 2015, 15 percent of enterprise companies were already using AI to automate manual, repetitive tasks. (Narrative Science)
  • By 2016, 38 percent of enterprises adopted AI (26% for automating repetitive tasks). (Narrative Science)
  • In 2017, 80 percent of enterprises adopted some form of AI in production (Forbes)

So, if you are worried that robots will take your job, simply visit WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com and find out!

Semmann is WBA executive vice president – chief operations officer and executive director of the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation.