Why Business Leaders Should View Artificial Intelligence As A Co-Pilot

Darren Person is the Chief Digital Officer at Circana. He leads the company’s new digital initiatives that combine marketing and technology.

Across industries, people have been voicing worries about artificial intelligence replacing jobs. These worries aren’t unfounded: A report published by the Pew Research Center in July 2023 indicated that in 2022, “19% of American workers were in jobs that are the most exposed to AI, in which the most important activities may be either replaced or assisted by AI.” What’s more, a June 2023 report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found that in May 2023, 3,900 jobs were cut due to AI. On the flip side, some companies have restricted or banned the use of AI in their workplaces.

Business leaders shouldn’t approach AI from these two extremes. They shouldn’t consider AI as a direct replacement for jobs, nor should they back away from it. Instead, they should shift their mindsets and view this technology as a co-pilot.

An ‘Us Versus Them’ Mentality Will Get Companies Nowhere

The reality is that AI is here to stay, and companies that want to be innovative will need to leverage it smartly. The companies that don’t lean into it risk falling behind their competitors eventually. Consider some of the other market disruptions we’ve seen and the companies that failed because they didn’t get ahead of those disruptions. A prominent example? Video rental stores. As one bankruptcy case study noted, Giants Movie Gallery and Blockbuster “began struggling to compete with streaming and mailing platforms,” and both were “driven into bankruptcy because they failed to adapt quickly enough.”

Business leaders should not approach AI with an “us versus them” mentality. As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Think about this: When your industry is being disrupted, who better to take the helm than you?

Replacing Jobs With AI Is Not The Answer

However, some business leaders have jumped to the other extreme, using AI to replace employees. Companies are generally trying to reduce costs and grow simultaneously. With AI in the mix, there’s arguably greater tension between these two goals—executives might be inclined to view AI as a quick cost-saving measure. But this, in my view, is not the answer in many cases. Over-reliance on AI could hinder or dismantle critical business functions.

A research paper published in June 2023 gives valuable insights into

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Is chasing artificial intelligence genuinely senseless? | This Week in Business

This Week in Business is our weekly recap column, a collection of stats and quotes from recent stories presented with a dash of opinion (sometimes more than a dash) and intended to shed light on various trends. Check every Friday for a new entry.

With a name like “This Week in Business,” the expectation is that we talk about things that happened this week. Things in business, even.

But sometimes expectations go unfilled. And sometimes we plan to write about one thing, but then Unity shoves its foot into its mouth clear up to the knee and we feel obligated to point at the company trying to choke down its own femur and say, “I don’t know, seems like a bad idea?”

So anyway, we’re playing catch-up this week and looking back to two weeks ago at an interview we did with Roblox’s chief technology officer Daniel Sturman about the company’s plans for generative AI.

QUOTE | “It can act as an incredible on-ramp to creators on the platform, but it also can work in a way that can really accelerate existing creators. It’s not a separate thing from Studio. It’s all part of the creator tools we’ve been shipping for years; it’s just accelerating them with the power of generative AI.” – Sturman talks about Roblox’s AI Assistant, a conversational tool that users can ask to pull assets into a project and code behavior for objects in a game.

Right now the AI Assistant pulls assets from Roblox’s Creator Marketplace, but eventually the plan is to roll it out with 3D model creation, so Roblox developers will be able to ask for a model of a car and the AI will generate one that can then be tweaked on command.

Now I have what I think is a healthy skepticism toward AI. I question whether it will ever work the way backers are promising it will. I question whether the people rolling it out – those who swear up and down they want to do it in an ethical and proper way – will ultimately just shed any ethical concerns (and the people responsible for voicing them) as soon as it is financially prudent to do so, just like Amazon/Twitch, Microsoft, and Twitter have done.

I question whether it is even possible to pursue AI in an ethical way, given how

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