AI FOR HUMANKIND COVER STORY:
facilitate the well-being, effectiveness and performance of the human end user. So, we need to find the perfect balance to enjoy the benefits and opportunities of AI, whilst ensuring these advances serve our human identity and values. A fear we do have is that if AI is adopted in rather mindless ways – without a reflective attitude – we can easily start a slippery slope where the way we work, interact and manage our societies will adapt to the way the machine works. And, if this happens, then society will over time become more suitable for machines to live in, rather than for humans. It would entail a shift from humans as being the ones to serve towards serving the employment of the machine itself.
An important driver was that in the West I saw that a focus on the humane and ethical implications of AI employment was increasing. From tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to academics in risk centres, more and more questions were being asked about the relationship between the increasing use of machines and the possible deterioration of humanity. In Asia, however, it was relatively silent when it came down to
Much debate exists about whether AI will replace humans in their jobs. From a costcutting perspective - which most companies adopt - loss of jobs will definitely happen.
these rather existential questions. China, as the dominant nation in Asia, of course, has a strong focus on advancing AI technologies, but the way they look at its governance, ethics and the use of technology for human welfare is quite different from what we have seen in the West so far. As a result, the rest of Asia has so far also not devoted much attention to the issue (although this is changing very rapidly). Singapore is often applauded as the place where East and West meet, so, in my view, it’s the perfect place to have a centre like ours, where we ask existential questions that will, and should, occupy the whole world. We also notice that many companies in Asia have questions about these issues, so I like to think that with the establishment of our centre we can accelerate the demand for more human-centred development and the adoption of AI technologies in this region.
You’ve recently written a book, “Leadership by Algorithm”, in which you discuss the range of issues connected with the ever-increasing presence of artificial intelligence systems in society, including the notion of fairness. Could you enlarge on the theme implied by the tag line of the book: “Who leads and who follows in the AI era?”
AI is the new hero in the corporate world and, by extension, society. And, to some extent, this is not a surprise. Almost daily, we can see examples in the news, social media and research on how AI can
8 The European Business Review January - February 2021