Perspective: Why not just simply automate?

“Machines won’t have the capacity to inspire people and wisdom to make ethical judgements”
Artificial Intelligence (AI) builds on the computational power of vast neural networks sifting through massive digital data sets or “big data” to achieve outcomes analogous, often superior, to those produced by human learning and decision-making. AI has been one of those long-hyped technologies that have not transformed our whole world yet, but will. Now that it appears ready for prime time, there is consternation, even among technologists, about the unbridled power that machines may have over human decision-making. The sophistication and volume of data may be increasing, but history affords model of a decision maker’s proper relationship to data analytics.
Those in the driver seat of institutions have access to an expanding universe of empirically derive insights about widely varying phenomena, such as optimal models for unloading ships in the world’s busiest ports in various weather conditions, parameters of loyalty programmes that generates the “stickiest” customer response, or talent selection modes that yields both the most successful, and diverse, employment tools.

Corporate leaders need to be discerning in their use of AI tools. They must judge the source of the data streams before them, ascertain their validity and reliability, detect less than obvious patterns in the data, probe the remaining what ifs” they present, and ultimately make inferences and judgement calls that are more informed, nuanced around context, valid and useful because they are improved by intelligent machines. Flawed judgements built on flawed or misinterpreted data could be even more harmful than uninformed flawed judgements because of the illusion of quasi-scientific authority resulting from aura of data.

In parallel to the ascendency of machine power, the importance of emotional intelligence, or EQ, looms larger than ever to preserve the human connectivity of organizations and communities. While machines are expected to advance to the point of reading and interpreting emotions, they won’t have the capacity to inspire followers, the wisdom to make ethical judgements, or savvy to make connections.

That’s still all on us.

Extracted from Judy D. Olian, UCL, 2017

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