The Negative Social Impact of Dealing with AI in the Workplace

Andy Hab
3 min readSep 30

How interacting with AI leaves employees feeling worse — mostly

AI is a very hot topic at the moment. It is considered a tool that will be able to do everything and essentially replace human beings in the workplace. Not to mention the existential threat that some see. But at a more pragmatic level just working with AI seems like it can have some unintended consequences. Read on:

So what is negative about dealing with AI? Feeling stupid, maybe?

I suppose it could be, but I think most people see it as a tool to get more of what they want at the moment. This research looked at the psychological impacts of dealing with AI in the workplace in four locations (U.S., Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia).

Ok, I’m intrigued, what did they find?

Tang et al. conducted studies in four countries that explored the impacts of interaction with AI. This included working as often as possible with AI systems for a three-week period and tracking psychological impacts with surveys. In another study half of the cohort wer instructed to avoid working with AI systems for three days and the other half to maximise their work with AI systems. They also included surveys of family members to report on other factors at home.

Oh wow, I like that idea? But you still haven’t told my what they found…

I’m getting there. The findings across all the studies and groups was consistent, it is important to note, suggesting that this is not cultural. So what did they find? They found that interactions with AI:

  • Increased feelings of loneliness
  • Increased insomnia
  • Increased after-work drinking

But there are some positive effects too…

Oh, that is fascinating — so it seems that interacting with “machines” actually does impact our social system. But why sleep and drinking?

Yes, fascinating. The loneliness could be intuited — after all if you’re interacting less with human beings, or less than usual, loneliness could be a logical consequence. We do know that social interaction is also rewarding and can calm anxiety — so maybe…

Andy Hab

Sharing fascinating, fun, and important knowledge on the brain and human behaviour - most days. And masters track athlete - still going strong!