Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will change the landscape of the workplace, but the need to develop and nurture great teams and leaders will remain in human hands for decades to come. Artificial intelligence is about efficiency, scope, and data – creating high-performance workplace cultures where employees look forward to coming to work is about trust and emotional connections. 

Don Rheem is CEO of E3 Solutions, recently sat down with Inside Counsel for an exclusive interview. Rheem focuses on using science-backed research to consult with leaders at all levels within an organization and his passion for delivering truly outstanding improvements in business performance conveys quickly to the CEOs and key executives he works with.

AI will change the legal landscape in a similar way it will change the terrain for all organizations, according to Rheem. It will process data in ways that reduce risk, increase possibilities, and determine correlations and causal relationships that would be impossible for the human brain. However, AI will not nurture better leaders, reduce turnover, develop vibrant workplace cultures, or strengthen the relational well-being of employees that come to work every day. He said, “Those tasks, typically under developed in law firms today, will remain the responsibility of front-line leaders.”

“We are hardwired at birth to be in a group and centuries of relational development among human beings has also demonstrated a critical role for effective leaders in developing high-performance teams and workplace cultures,” Rheem said. “Artificial intelligence offers a lot of promise in the workplace, but leadership is not on that list.”

Today, AI is a compelling topic as it will have a pervasive impact in the workplace, so we must be careful though, not to anthropomorphize its capabilities. Further, AI and machine learning will deliver their greatest promise by increasing efficiencies in organizations, and digesting enormous amounts of data as it searches for value that might be hidden within.

“Human beings simply cannot compete with this ability to digest vast amounts of information for insights,” he explained. ”While AI will be good at identifying relationships between words, even concepts, and data, it will remain for many years to come a tool, rather than a social resource lawyers can use relationally to load share, form bonds, seek validation or receive recognition.”

The brain has limited energy and it is always searching for ways to do things more efficiently. That is, to do things using the least amount of metabolic load. From the brain’s perspective, the most efficient way to accomplish things is with others – with people that are trusted and reliable – that we can load share the task with. The brain views these social resources interchangeably with physical resources like water and food.

“The key to load sharing is to be among people that are predictable and consistent, and thus trustworthy. This is a critical function that takes place primarily in the brain’s limbic system,” explained Rheem. “The determination of trustworthiness is fundamentally an emotional process that includes our constant evaluation of the people around us, in our relationships, to determine who we can rely on in key moments.”

So, what will AI do for law firms and law departments in the future?

According to Rheem, AI like robotics and machine learning, is most likely to reduce the need for employees that do repetitive, mundane, and process -related tasks within an organization.

“For example, within five years AI will be playing a major role in a law firm’s research department. In 10 years it will be the research department.”