In a recent talk at MachineCon 2023 in New York, Katie Stein, Chief Strategy Officer at Genpact, discussed the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in business. She drew parallels between the discovery of fire and the advent of AI, emphasizing how both have the potential to fundamentally change society.
The Pervasiveness of AI
Stein began by highlighting the pervasiveness of AI in our daily lives. She noted that AI is no longer a niche topic, but a central part of many conversations, from boardrooms to classrooms. She cited the example of ChatGPT, which gained 100 million users in just two months, as evidence of this tipping point.
The Potential of AI
Stein argued that the potential of AI extends far beyond productivity. While productivity gains are important, she expressed concern that an overemphasis on productivity could lead to a narrative about job loss. Instead, she suggested that AI should be seen as a tool for potential creation.
To illustrate this point, Stein shared a hypothetical scenario involving a small florist in New York City. In this scenario, the florist uses an AI chatbot to help plan their holiday season advertising strategy. The chatbot, in conjunction with machine learning algorithms, helps the florist make more informed decisions about when and where to place ads. This scenario demonstrates how AI can be used to drive growth, improve customer retention, and enhance customer service.
The Challenges of AI
Despite the potential of AI, Stein acknowledged that there are significant challenges to overcome. She noted that many AI initiatives have failed due to a lack of governance and measurement. To address these challenges, Stein suggested that technologists need to take center stage and rethink the operating model for implementing AI in the enterprise.
Stein identified three key areas that need to be addressed: where to focus AI efforts, who will be affected by AI, and how to implement AI responsibly. She suggested that organizations need to develop a strategy for AI, train their employees in AI literacy, and establish a framework for responsible AI use.
The Future of AI
Stein concluded her talk by expressing optimism about the future of AI. She suggested that AI has the potential to rewire systems and processes, leading to new discoveries and insights. However, she emphasized that this will require a shift in mindset, from viewing AI as a tool for augmenting human work to seeing it as a way to do things differently.
In summary, Stein’s talk highlighted the transformative potential of AI in business. She argued that AI is not just about productivity, but also about potential creation. However, she also acknowledged the challenges of implementing AI and suggested that technologists need to take a leading role in overcoming these challenges.