Controlled Chaos: The Key to the Emergence of an Even More Powerful AI

If amid the noise of incoming AI suggestions you can’t even hear yourself think, here’s some unfortunate news. The upcoming wave will be even more radical, and as a leader, the longer you delay in releasing your team in a coordinated manner, the further you fall behind. We have a proposal we would like to offer.

It was Ravi Mhatre, an influential global investor and co-founder of Lightspeed Venture Partners, who informed me about the rapidly approaching changes. Presently, AI requires human guidance. In the very near future, what is referred to as “agentic AI” will have the capability to carry out complex tasks with minimal human supervision. When combined with the enhanced processing power of quantum computing, everything shifts—especially our perspective on workforce management.

“We have reached a critical juncture where artificial intelligence’s automation of human cognition will reshape the world significantly,” mentioned Mhatre.

“Agentic AI will automate brain power just like how the industrial revolution automated human labor and the computer revolution enhanced human productivity,” he stated. “These are major transformative phases, and the third one is unfolding at a faster pace.” Think about five to six years.

In this piece, we aim to provide you with examples of forthcoming changes that shook me, and hopefully, they will have a similar impact on you. We will also offer a roadmap for adjusting to this seismic shift, but this is just the beginning. On April 15, we will be convening a group of CIOs and CHROs in Vancouver to delve deeper into this topic along with some of the top minds in AI and human capital. Further details to follow.

How significant and imminent is this anyway?

Ravi inquired whether enterprises are prepared. Recently, a president of a large company confided in me that they were ceasing AI exploration due to the chaos it caused, and the CIO expressed concerns about the overwhelming influx of technology that might require undoing in the future. This is not the solution. The remedy lies in collective action, but action taken in a novel manner to engage the widest and most inclusive community for substantial transformative change. Not chaos, but controlled crowdsourcing. And the question of who will lead? Wrong question. The ‘sherpas’ can be any dedicated leader. It could be you—if you are open to inclusive change management.

If I were in the shoes of a CIO, CHRO, or CFO today, I would collaborate with a forward-thinking group of peers to strategize on leveraging today’s creative AI and tomorrow’s agentic AI. This necessitates close collaboration. Failure to do so will result in your company lagging behind.

Consider what visionary AI experts already foresee: Businesses are starting to implement “lights out manufacturing” where robots handle all tasks and humans serve as mere supervisors. If you work in software, you might be able to reduce your engineering team by 80%, but you will need to hire system designers with a different skill set. The same goes for TV and film, where digital actors that are indistinguishable from real ones will be deployed. Farewell, large teams of makeup artists. Hello, more graphic designers.

“AI and robotics may soon venture into performing surgeries, but for now, they can swiftly provide an initial diagnosis: Do you have cancer, or is it a benign growth,” pointed out Mhatre.

According to Nitin Mittal, a principal at Deloitte and one of the firm’s AI leaders, drug development that historically took three to six years to progress from discovery to pre-clinical trials could see this time frame compressed to three to six months with generative AI. Future systems incorporating quantum technology and AI might condense this timeline to three to six minutes.

The benefits from traditional digitization were measured in percentages. With AI, they will be in multiples. “With the speed at which innovation is taking place, there will be winners and losers, and 90% of the world will struggle to keep pace,” Mittal emphasized.

Suketu Gandhi, a partner at Kearney, suggests that tasks like predicting consumer demand, assessing suppliers, negotiating contracts, and monitoring supplier performance can be delegated to AI. An AI-based transportation network could manage autonomous vehicles, optimize the fleet, streamline loading processes, and determine the most efficient delivery schedule. Employment opportunities might increase in certain areas, such as product design, but routine tasks are at risk, and over a period of three to five years, companies could potentially reduce their workforce by 20% to 30%, as estimated by Kearney.

What does this signify for the future workforce?

If you are responsible for HR, training, or your company’s talent pool, the impact of AI on the future is bound to be profound. A study by Goldman Sachs widely predicts that approximately two-thirds of occupations in the U.S. will undergo some form of automation, with a quarter of current tasks being taken over by AI on average. Legal and administrative work are among the most vulnerable. This scenario is based solely on generative AI. Now, envisage the next phase involving agentic AI paired with quantum computing.

At a macro level, this translates to significant workforce reductions, extensive retraining, and the hiring of individuals with different skill sets.

“Of course, humans will remain a part of the equation,” Mhatre acknowledged. “However, there are certain cognitive tasks that hold considerable importance, representing a substantial portion of organizational activities that computers can now handle.”

OK, what’s next?

How do we progress from here? The preceding section should make us all realize that we don’t have a choice. It’s a call to action.

The solution lies in leveraging the collective. Every individual in the company should be encouraged to participate in the movement to experiment with AI and pave the way for the new era. Leadership in this context is not about control; it’s about inspiring possibility, fostering experimentation, highlighting successes, and embracing quick failures with an inquisitive mindset.

Here is a proposed pathway. We look forward to hearing your insights on how you are cultivating your own AI initiatives, and together, we can address the challenges ahead. This will be one of the focal points of the meeting on April 15.

The steps toward harnessing the collective might entail the following:

  • Call to action: Commence with an open challenge inviting anyone to experiment. The objective is to stay ahead of what AI will do to you and instead focus on defining what AI can do for us. Each month, all participants who step up to join the movement, regardless of function or division, will convene virtually. This can all be done asynchronously.
  • Each individual or group will have five minutes to showcase their progress, summarized on a single page, covering: 1) key learnings, 2) success and progress indicators, 3) challenges faced, and 4) the plan for the next monthly sprint until the next meeting.
  • All attendees will access a shared Google document to provide feedback to their presenting peers, offering insights on: 1) challenges and risks, 2) suggestions and innovations to build upon the presentation, and 3) assistance and recommendations for follow-up actions. This process, combining presentations and feedback, lasts approximately five to seven minutes. Assuming about half a dozen presenters at a time, it concludes in roughly an hour. This facilitates exposure to best practices and organization-wide shared learning. Remarkable.
  • Following this, the executive group will address the overarching questions that arise: What are the predominant themes emerging, what are the concerns and opportunities that warrant focus as an organization? Each project will pose new and intricate questions. How does this affect HR policies or financial models? What about technology and tools?
  • And the cycle continues relentlessly. This same process should be replicated in monthly or quarterly sprints, aligning with the rapid pace of technological advancement.

And let’s not forget, this is a collective endeavor. The implications of AI are so extensive and transformative that they will influence every facet of the organization. Let’s ensure the presence of the CIO, CHRO, CFO, and GC. Conquering this will demand the combined intellect and trusted collaboration of the entire c-suite.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *