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Here’s a disturbing thought: A RoboCEO powered by artificial intelligence — possibly based on IBM’s Watson — could be running some companies within the next decade. Not every company will warm to the idea, to be sure, but it’s conceivable that the practice could begin.
Are you ready to work for a RoboCEO? Though it seems farfetched, this idea has started to bubble to the surface, with leaders like Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma apparently taking it seriously.
As with computers, the Internet and other technological leaps, there’s quite a bit of both good and bad around artificial intelligence. How would working life be different under a RoboCEO? If we widen the focus, how might it impact our life — and, in fact, our society in general? Things will change, whether or not we are ready for a revolution.
Would a RoboCEO running on AI be unforgiving? In what ways might that be so? Who would be the judge if employees should have grievances against a RoboCEO?
AI software might be challenged to make some thorny judgments. Take this hypothetical problem from the automotive world: If an accident involving a self-driving car were inevitable, how would the AI decide between negative outcomes? If harm inevitably had to come to someone, how would the AI software choose?
Why consider appointing a RoboCEO? For starters, it wouldn’t need a multimillion-dollar salary and bonus package. Like RoboWorkers in general, the RoboCEO would never need rest, never get sick, never have to eat, go to the bathroom, take a Starbucks break. It would never take a vacation. It wouldn’t need healthcare, life insurance or retirement benefits, and it wouldn’t require a lavish working environment.
Still, the idea of spending one’s working life under the leadership of a RoboCEO could generate quite a bit of angst. There are plenty of good, bad and unknown potential consequences.
Who among us would be the best types to do well in this experimental setting? Or should RoboWorkers be the only employees who have to answer to a RoboCEO?
For Better and Worse
A RoboCEO likely would be more effective leading an army of RoboWorkers rather than humans….