“AI is not considered as one solution among others, but as the solution to all problems of the work organization”

OWe know how much artificial intelligence (AI) creates fears, fantasies or promises, with significant consequences for employment, but even more so for the work and well-being of employees.

The design and implementation choices of these emerging technologies in organizations too often respond to a ‘technosolutionist’ logic, which is part of a deterministic and performative paradigm. In other words, AI is not considered as ‘one’ possible solution, but is presented from the start as ‘the’ solution to all the organization’s problems. By its very presence, it should generate an increase in productivity (particularly intellectual), greater creativity and subjective involvement, and make work more attractive through a kind of re-enchantment of the professional world.

The social imagination associated with generative AI is also based on the idea that it would reduce the cognitive costs of work, by taking over the most repetitive and boring tasks, allowing the individual to reinvest in higher value-added tasks. However, these tasks, which the organization considers useless, can be of interest to the employee: either because they give him the opportunity to rest mentally (by working in automatic mode), to imagine and innovate (by wandering intellectually), or even having the impression that you are making progress in your work (in an activity that is usually hindered).

Furthermore, we see that these technologies can also be used as a “Trojan horse” to justify changes (organizational or professional) that are more acceptable when instilled by these tools than when they come from people. For example, selection at university is made possible by algorithmic platforms (Parcoursup, My master), even though this has always been a highly flammable subject…

Management ideology

As research in the humanities and social sciences has shown time and time again to support digital transformations, design approaches regularly forget to involve end users, who are nevertheless the first recipients of these tools. The reality of their work is never taken into account, and the conditions for the integration of these devices into always complex systems are not subject to discussion.

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Several reasons explain this slowness. First, professionals are too often seen as the adaptive variable or, worse, as the docile executors of an AI that becomes the master of those it is supposed to serve, in a kind of submission to technical authority. These instruments are then seen as the armed arm of the organizational project or management ideology through which companies ensure that procedures and standards are properly applied, especially in new hybrid work contexts where activities become invisible and individualized. This very top-down approach to the technological project can be summarized with this formula from the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago: “Science discovers, industry applies and people follow. »

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