AI FOR HUMANKIND COVER STORY:
no innovation at all. In fact, our management philosophy is more than 100 years old and has not changed at all. In 1911, Taylor wrote a book on the scientific principles of management and, thus, management by system was born. Today, we are champions – by means of our metrics – in managing, to the extent that we are actually box-tickers but not innovators. From this perspective, we focus on routine and status quo, and this will lead to a situation where AI can replace us very easily, because, after all, routine tasks are the primary tasks AI is superior in. So, in my book, I say that management by algorithm (MBA) is definitely happening and, if we’re not careful and don’t train more in the soft skills that make us uniquely human, we run the risk of losing our leadership capabilities and ending up running organisations in automated ways. In that case, the work culture will feel robotic and even more metric-driven.
Given the increasing use of artificial intelligence in business and industry, will business of the future be a question of competition for who has the best algorithms? Or, rather, might it be more a question of who is most successful at integrating the human- and machine-based processes into the running of the business?
Well, in my view, both will be needed. Competition will definitely be there, but there is a high risk that such competition will translate into monopolies. AI runs and learns based on data. Because we talk of the digital age, we therefore also assume that every company should
Organisational leadership needs to think in inclusive ways, so that diversity of thought is encouraged with the aim of creating a climate of digital inquisitiveness.
have data in abundance, but this is not entirely true. If we adopt AI for relatively simple routine tasks which can be done by means of supervised learning, quite a number of companies will be able to provide the needed data. However, when tasks become more complex, and especially if unsupervised learning and reinforcement learning enter the equation, then most companies simply do not have the data. So companies who have access to more data to train machines will have an advantage, and those companies are the big names everyone knows – Amazon, Facebook, Google and so forth. Also, if we look at the biggest companies in the world, most of them are tech companies, which signals a kind of winner-takes-all trend; those companies have most of the data in the world and, because of their position, they will also take all the business. Such monopolies may therefore create other challenges whereby technology does not eliminate, but rather promotes, inequalities. We have to be careful here.
With respect to integrating the human- and machine-based processes into the business, if you decide to adopt AI platforms within your organisation then, yes, it will be important that machines can be integrated in ways that enhance