March Monthly Briefing: Digitalisation

We continue our monthly look at topics of importance for people moving their businesses onto a more sustainable and responsible path.  Few issues have more buzz right now than artificial intelligence.

If 2023 was the year everyone seemingly started wondering and worrying about the risks and opportunities of AI, then already, such is the pace of change, this year looks like being one of rapid adoption and adaptation. As I write this, news comes that British AI pioneer, Mustafa Suleyman, is joining Microsoft to lead its newly formed AI division. He has written thoughtfully about the dilemmas at play here and the need to maintain control over powerful technologies.

The potential economic benefits are widely trailed, with trillions on offer in productivity gains and new products and services. The bigger the gain, however, the wider the impact: the IMF has just warned that 60% of jobs in advanced economies will be affected, half of those being replaced in whole or part.

Our writers this month look at some of the current and near future opportunities for harnessing the power of generative AI – and in differing ways, all of these warn that human interaction is vital to gaining the benefits, not to mention ensuring protections are in place.

Advice abounds on how to do that, including in our Actions for Business report published at the start of the year.  We said then that senior decision-makers need to educate themselves on the ethical aspects, including on inbuilt bias and copyright infringement. We also said that adhering to industry standards and embracing regulatory compliance is the right stance, in other words not following a casual approach to technological innovation – also known as ‘break the rules, then pick up the pieces’.

The fundamental principle here is transparency, that is, openly explaining whenever AI is being used, with a warning about its limitations. My logic is simply that things will inevitably go wrong at some point.  Explaining, and putting that right, will be much easier when honesty is the watch-word. Not for the first time, it is all about building trust.

Visit the March Monthly Briefing here.

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