Will artificial intelligence replace CEOs?
Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba, is a big believer in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, even though he thinks the technologies will eventually eliminate the need for human chief executives over the course of the next several decades.
Speaking at a China Entrepreneur Club conference, Mr. Ma said AI is critical to helping organizations process the vast amounts of data being generated. He cautioned, however, that AI and robotics should be developed to complement humans in the workplace and not as a replacement.
Mr. Ma fears that in the coming decades, while advances in technology will provide the benefit of helping people live longer lives, it will simultaneously putting them out of work. This combination of factors will create “social conflicts” and “have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life.”
Alibaba’s chairman said that, within the next 10 to 20 years, people will have substantially more non-work time on their hands as the time spent on the job is cut to “less than four hours a day, maybe three days a week.”
He also said that it will not only be low- and mid-level workers who will be affected by technological advances.
“In 30 years, a robot will likely be on the cover of Time Magazine as the best CEO,” Mr. Ma said. Non-human CEOs will have the benefits of being able to make business decisions more quickly based on more and better data. Also, unlike human CEOs, they will not be swayed by petty emotions.
For those inclined to dismiss Mr. Ma’s predictions, he cautioned that many did so years ago when he spoke to audiences about the coming disruptive nature of the internet and e-commerce on traditional businesses.
- Alibaba founder Jack Ma: AI will cause people ‘more pain than happiness’ – The Guardian
- Billionaire Jack Ma says CEOs could be robots in 30 years, warns of decades of ‘pain’ from A.I., internet impact – CNBC
- Jack Ma: In 30 years, the best CEO could be a robot – CNN Money
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How will artificial intelligence and robotics affect retail workplaces over the next several decades? Can you imagine a future in which technology will replace the need for human CEOs?