September 6, 2018updated 04 Jan 2019 4:38pm

Business leaders: AI will diversify human thinking, not replace it

By Robert Scammell

A study has found that the majority of global business leaders believe AI will diversify human thinking rather than replace it.

Most believe that AI will have a positive impact in the future workplace, with 93% believing it will enhance decision making.

The study, carried out by telecommunications provider Tata Communications, also found that 75% of respondents expect AI to create new roles for their employees.

Among the leaders providing insight was former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, who predicts that “AI will allow us to do what it is that we are uniquely meant to do: focus on high-level thinking, strategy, and paving the way for innovation.”

Previous reports have suggested that AI could threaten 800 million jobs, or in military scenarios post a risk to civilian lives.

However, experts are increasingly coming to the consensus that while some jobs – such as those in agriculture, fast food and accounting – are at risk, AI will generate more jobs in their place.

That idea was supported by the 120 surveyed business leaders, with three quarters expecting AI to create new roles for their employees.

In a previous study, over half of UK CIOs agreed with this sentiment, but they remained concerned about a skills gap of employees who could work alongside AI.

Augmenting decision making with an algorithm

Much has been written about a time when AI will surpass humans. However, Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley professor and co-author of the report, disagrees:

“There is a growing interest in ‘Multiplicity’, where AI helps groups of machines and humans collaborate to innovate and solve problems.

“This survey of leading executives reveals that Multiplicity, the positive and inclusive vision of AI, is gaining traction.”

Business leaders were almost unanimous (93%) in their belief that AI will enhance decision making.

Co-author Vinod Kumar, CEO and Managing Director at Tata Communications, said:

“AI is now being viewed as a new category of intelligence that can complement existing categories of emotional, social, spatial, and creative intelligence.

What is transformational about Multiplicity is that it can enhance cognitive diversity, combining categories of intelligence in new ways to benefit all workers and businesses.”

Business leaders echoed Kumar, with nine in ten agreeing that cognitive diversity is important for management.

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