Avani Parekh chats about if AI can automate Empathy


AI Can’t Adopt Humaneness in Empathy: Avani Parekh

Artificial intelligence (AI) can’t adopt the humaneness in empathy, said Avani Parekh, strategic manager, community partnerships, Facebook. Speaking to Nish Parikh, chief executive officer of Rangam Consultants in the weekly Chat with Nish show, Avani said that her core says ‘no’ on whether AI can automate empathy.

According to Avani, “Empathy is a very humane need. It’s one of the things that make us tick. We want to feel understood. I don’t think empathy can be automated by technology,” she said. When people sit together in a room, the type of feeling and connection they would have from an in-person interaction, would be at a completely different level. “Having a similar conversation on a digital platform may be rewarding. But it’s very different from having that cup of tea or coffee with somebody and feel the vibes or see each other’s emotions. Any person who has survived the pandemic (covid) will be hungry for that type of interaction,” said Avani.

AI, in recent times, has made major inroads in the human resource (HR) industry with data-driven insights and predictive analysis for decision making. Machine intelligence has enhanced employee and candidate experience by automating repetitive tasks and streamlining various processes. More importantly, it has freed HR professionals from mundane administrative tasks like making complicated spreadsheets and paperwork. HR leaders are now utilizing the time in more productive activities like forging relationships and building strategies. Several leading companies have adopted AI-backed HR tech systems to improve productivity and performance.

“AI can be used to automate empathy,” said Avaini, “but only up to a certain point. You can train AI to respond and say the right things. But it can never be the full experience.”

Talking about empathy in the workplace, Avani said: “Whenever I have focused on the human connection rather than what we need to get done from a project, it has served me well. You never know what somebody is going through. Sometimes stepping back when you’re moving really fast, taking stock, understanding a person’s feeling and opening up a conversation about it, can work good.”

Empathy, Avani believes, is a culture thing. “You’ve to start from the top. Humane conversations are increasingly popping up on the digital workspace. Human to human connection leads to better work. You feel more fulfilled. You’re likely to have more loyalty to the company. Overall, the productivity is going to be a little bit higher because you’re being cared for,” she said.