Artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace is taking a significant toll on employees’ physical and mental well-being, a new study has found.
About the research: The study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology on Monday, found that workers who interact with AI are more likely to experience loneliness, insomnia and higher levels of drinking than those who don’t.
An international team of researchers surveyed a total of 794 employees in workplaces from four different countries — Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and the U.S. — in the spring of 2021 and the spring of 2022. The subjects rated their feelings of loneliness, anxiety and sense of belonging and provided information on how they slept and the amount of liquor they drank after work.
Finding correlation: Across all workspaces, the researchers found a link between the subjects’ use of AI and their feelings of loneliness, with the Taiwanese, Malaysian and American workers saying they drank more and slept less.
Notably, while the surveyed Indonesian staff members who worked with AI also experienced loneliness and insomnia, drinking was not as common in their group as it is forbidden among Muslims. Over 86% of Indonesia’s population is Muslim.
Need for social interaction: The study also found that employees who worked with AI were much more proactive in helping other employees. The researchers, however, pointed out that this may be driven by a need to socialize with their peers.
Lead researcher Pok Man Tang, an assistant professor of management at the University of Georgia, attributed the negative impacts of AI to the human need for social interaction.
The rapid advancement in AI systems is sparking a new industrial revolution that is reshaping the workplace with many benefits but also some uncharted dangers, including potentially damaging mental and physical impacts for employees. Humans are social animals, and isolating work with AI systems may have damaging spillover effects into employees’ personal lives.