Six lightbulbs are lined up against a yellow background, with one upside down and lit up.
Image: © virtua73/

Which of these WFH inventions would you choose?

15 Apr 2021

AI and humans were asked to invent technology solutions to some of the challenges facing remote workers. Here’s what they came up with.

We’ve all had to become tech whizzes over the past year to do our jobs. Now that you have a new set of skills under your belt, which could range from setting up a Zoom call to using the pomodoro technique, you might be eager to learn what else could be on the horizon for productivity and HR tech.

In a recent project at Skynova, some humans and robots gave it a go.

Using a GPT-3 language prediction model, the software provider asked AI to invent solutions to some of the challenges facing remote workers. It asked a panel of creative humans to do the same.

A follow-up survey then asked 1,000 people to compare the human and AI inventions. They were each given a hypothetical $1m to invest in the most promising ideas, and they weren’t told which inventions came from humans and which came from the AI.

For example, ‘Hype Conference’ was an AI invention for improving productivity at remote meetings. The idea wasa that this would be a video meeting set up like a conference room, with space for everything the team needs such as shared documents and collaborative whiteboards.

The human solution to the same problem was ‘Meeting Avatar’, which would create a video loop of you looking mildly engaged and use AI to trigger subtle changes in your facial expressions in response to specific words, so that you look like you’re paying attention in meetings.

To help with pet distractions while working from home, ‘Pet Pal’ was put forward by a human as a way to keep animals occupied. This would involve a robot keeping pets entertained through tug-of-war games and shining lasers. The AI suggested a device with sensors that can sync with your smartphone, which will alert you when a pet is in an area of the house they shouldn’t have access to.

Hype Conference was the tool that attracted the most hypothetical investment from respondents, raising a total of $112,971. Overall, however, human ideas did better than those put forward by AI, with human inventions bringing in an average of $86,167 while AI inventions saw an average investment of $80,716.

Infographic showing hypothetical investments from survey respondents in human and AI inventions for working from home.

Click to enlarge. Infographic: Skynova

Infographic showing WFH inventions from humans AI for pet distractions.

Click to enlarge. Infographic: Skynova

Want stories like this and more direct to your inbox? Sign up for Tech Trends, Silicon Republic’s weekly digest of need-to-know tech news.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading