If AI can do your job, maybe it can replace your CEO.

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

As artificial intelligence programs shake up the office, potentially making millions of jobs obsolete, one group of perpetually stressed workers seems especially vulnerable.

These employees analyze new markets and understand trends, both of which can be done more efficiently by computers. They spend most of their time communicating with peers, a laborious activity that is being automated with voice and image generators. Sometimes they have to make tough decisions – and who better to be apathetic than a machine?

Finally, these jobs are very well paid, which means that the cost savings of eliminating them is substantial.

Chief executives are increasingly influenced by AI, as are news release writers and customer service representatives. The dark factories, which are fully automated, may soon have a counterpart at the top of the corporation: the dark suits.

This is not just a prediction. Some successful companies have begun to publicly experiment with the concept of an AI leader, even if it's largely a branding exercise at the moment.

Since OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2022, AI has been touted as the solution to all corporate problems for nearly 18 months. Silicon Valley poured $29 billion into generative AI last year and is selling it hard. Even in its current nascent form, AI that mimics human reasoning is making inroads into troubled companies that have little to lose and lack strong leadership.

“In struggling companies, you'll replace operational management first but probably retain a few humans to think ahead of the machines,” said Saul J. Berman, a former senior consulting partner at IBM. Overall, he said, “the transformation AI will bring to corporations will be as great or greater at the highest strategic levels of management as at the lower levels.”

Chief executives themselves seem excited about the prospect — or perhaps just fatalistic.

EdX, an online learning platform created by Harvard and MIT administrators that is now publicly traded by 2U Inc. is part of, surveyed hundreds of chief executives and other executives about the issue last summer. Respondents were invited to participate and given what edX called “a small financial incentive” to do so.

The answer was surprising. Nearly half — 47 percent — of executives surveyed said they believe “most” or “all” of the chief executive's role should be fully automated or replaced by AI, even as executives think Executives are redundant at the end of the digital age.

When Anant Agarwal, founder of edX and former director of MIT's Computer Science and AI Lab, first saw the 47 percent, his initial reaction was that executives should say something else entirely.

“My first instinct is that they're going to say, 'Change all the employees but not me,'” he said. “But I thought more deeply and would say that 80 percent of the work that a CEO does can be replaced by AI.”

This includes writing, synthesizing, mentoring employees. More subtly, AI — if it reaches any of the levels its vendors are promising — will democratize the work of top management even as it takes it back.

“There used to be a curve of people who were good with numerical skills and those who weren't,” Mr. Agarwal said. “Then the calculator came along and was the great equalizer. I believe AI will do the same for literacy. Everyone can be a CEO.”

Working for robots has been around for a long time, at least in the realm of popular culture. Perhaps the first use of the phrase “robot-boss” was in a 1939 story by David C. Cooke in a pulp magazine simply titled Science Fiction. It was not an empowering story of mentorship and mutual support.

“Remember,” says the robot boss, “my photon gun will shoot faster than you can run, so don't try to run.”

A number of science fiction stories and films followed, portraying the human-machine relationship in an equally dark light. Even so, real people seem to warm to the idea a lot. In a 2017 survey of 1,000 British workers commissioned by an online accounting firm, 42 percent said they would be “comfortable” taking orders from a computer.

Long before the current AI boom, Jack Ma, then-chief executive of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, predicted that in 30 years “a robot will likely be on the cover of Time magazine as the best CEO.” He pointed out that robots were faster and more rational than humans, and were not driven by emotions such as anger.

Chinese online game company NetDragon Websoft, which has 5,000 employees, appointed an “AI-powered rotating CEO” named Tang Yu in 2022. “We believe that AI is the future of corporate management,” said Dejian Liu, the company's founder. He added that it was part of NetDragon's move into a “metaverse-based working community”.

Tang Yu, who is identified as a woman, does not appear on NetDragon's management team's online chart, but the company announced last month that she had won the “virtual employee of the year” award in China. have achieved Digital Human Industry Forum. Another executive picked up an award for it. NetDragon's AI employee team is responsible for performance evaluation and mentoring, among other duties, the company says.

On the other side of the world, high-end Polish rum company Diktador announced in November that it has an AI humanoid CEO, Mika. She declared on LinkedIn that she was “free from personal bias, unbiased and ensured strategic choices that prioritized the best interests of the organization.”

The National Association of Chief Executive Officers may have something to say about the trend — if only to deny it — but its website doesn't list any real people affiliated with the group. A message sent via “Contact Us” was not answered.

AI experts, the human kind, caution that we're still at the beginning of any change but say it's a natural progression.

“We've always outsourced the effort. Now we're outsourcing the intelligence,” said Vinay Menon, who leads the global AI practice at consultancy Korn Ferry. You don't need as many leaders, but you still need leadership.”

For one thing, humans provide accountability in a way that machines do not. “AI can be exploited by some,” said Sean Earley, managing director of executive consulting firm Teneo. “At what point does it become guilty of error?”

“Never” was the position one company recently took in court. A customer brought a lawsuit against Air Canada for refusing to provide a bereavement fare reduction promised by a chatbot on the airline's site. The consumer took his complaint to the Small Claims Tribunal. Air Canada argued in its defense that it could not be held responsible for information provided by any of its agents, servants or representatives – including chatbots.

The judge ruled against the airline and in favor of the passenger in February, but the company's argument that its own AI can't be trusted didn't sit well with AI management teams. Air Canada declined to comment.

Much of the discussion over the past year about AI in the workplace has revolved around how rank-and-file employees are at risk unless they incorporate the new technology into their jobs— Of course, automation has historically put workers at risk by not letting AI take their jobs. There is risk even as it benefits investors and managers.

Now the tables have turned. The researchers speculate that automation at the executive level could also help lower-level workers.

Phoebe V. Moore, professor of management and the future of work at the University of Essex Business School, said, “Someone who is already well advanced in their career and can already be highly self-motivated is now a human boss. not required.” “In this case, software for self-management can also enhance worker agency.”

The pandemic prepared people for it. Many office workers in 2020 worked from home, and some still do at least several days a week. Communication with colleagues and executives is done by machines. It's just a small step to communicating with a machine without a person on the other end.

“Some people like the social aspects of having a human boss,” Ms. Moore said. “But post-Covid, many people are fine with not having one.”

WhatsApp Group Join Now
Telegram Group Join Now
Instagram Group Join Now

Leave a Comment