Change in the age of AI.

It is 2040…

It is 2040. Rowdy humans have been replaced by obedient algorithms [1]. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), the strategic business transformation, a historically challenging undertaking, is now achieved without loss of productivity and with a decreased risk to investment [2].

It is 2040. AI supports the creation of the strategic vision, effectively. AI implements it, efficiently. The change management consultancy industry, as it existed to support the transformation, its complexity deriving from the confluence of disciplines centred on humans, has been decimated, another class of humans pushed out of the job market by AI. AI has accelerated change to levels that had never been seen.

Background.

Management consultants and authors Paul Hunter, of Smiknowledge, and Stuart Orr, of Deakin University, have asked me to contribute to a book from the perspective of an expert, writing in 2040, about the impact of AI-related disruption to the corporation. ‘2040. Backcasting the corporation’ is the book, my own contribution to it will be to explore business change practices in the age of AI. And, from the perspective of being in 2040, here’s a taster of…

…What I think has happened since 2018.

There has been an extraordinary rise of new professions, those that support AI and those that provide direct human contact and care - all in high demand:

  • Philosophers, ethicists, thinkers challenging the prejudices of earlier decades are in high demand at the corporations building AI. These are the humans that build values and ethics into AI. These are the humans that keep our humanity alive.

  • Business strategists help corporations keep ahead of the competition, as algorithms compete with each other and create the next winning business model.

  • Business consultants help corporations come to terms with the psychological and cultural impact of the hitherto unseen levels of change brought about by AI.

  • Carers, from nurses to personal trainers provide human contact and care in an age where our homo sapiens bodies are increasingly under stress.

These professions have required embedding into human resources’ practices through appropriate change management. Further, as AI has accelerated change to levels never seen before, the question has been: ‘Can AI also manage, if at all, the psychological and cultural impact of this speed?’.

2040. Backcasting the corporation.

In what will be the preface to the book, Paul Hunter and Stuart Orr write: “Although largely unseen, the industrial revolution taking place before us is picking up steam – dramatically. Dissolution of traditional global trading partnerships, such as the trade war between China and the US and the exit of the UK from the EU, are creating turmoil and rapid change in the business domain. Continual advances in technology and health treatments, political and societal change are creating a transformation that some would suggest is a paradox. From an optimistic perspective, this emerging change represents an era of excitement – heralding the arrival of new opportunities and new forms of growth. From a pessimistic perspective, it leads to change, destabilisation, displacement and ‘de-intellectualisation’. So far, it is unclear just how this revolution will unfold or what the role of the corporation will be in the future. What is clear is that we need to start envisioning just what this future might be and identify areas where it may deliver opportunities”.

There has been little clarity around the future corporation to date yet corporations will be the catalysts, drivers, victims and beneficiaries of change – and it is only when we accept and define a problem that we can resolve it. This is the purpose of the book.

My contribution to ‘2040. Backcasting the corporation’, due to be published by Routledge, Singapore, in 2019, will explores business change practices in the age of AI. Ultimately AI is very good at predicting mathematical patterns in the short term. But long term strategy in business? This is intrinsic to humans and the ‘human factor’ will still be key to making businesses successful. Watch this space to see what the result of my research will be.

And finally…

I am very honoured to have been invited to contribute and I am very excited to say that I will spend part of 2019 researching change management practices, that, in alignment to Chrys’ beliefs, must continue to be devoid of complexity to be effective even in the age of AI. I’ll write more here when the book is out, in 2019. In the meantime, to discuss how you can deliver major business transformation - without the complexity, contact us.

Footnotes

[1]. With thanks to Yuval Noah Harari’s splendid formulation in 21st Lessons for the 21st Century. Chapter on Liberty, pp 60.

[2]. The risk of investment will continue to exist. The reason is competition. If you put very efficient AI algorithms competing with current (2018) systems they will always win but, in 2040, algorithms will very likely be competing with each other and creating the next winning business model and, as always, will create winners and losers, a different but no less serious risk.

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