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Opinion: With AI making huge strides, who needs CEOs?

Much has been said about robots replacing jobs in the minimum wage bracket. But CXO level white-collar jobs might not be as “safe” as we’d previously thought.

You’ve spent a few decades in the industry. You’ve spent many countless nights working on projects, studying the in and outs of each and every aspect. You’re skilled enough to replace and take up the responsibility if any link in the product development chain fails. Your experience transcends domain boundaries giving you a bird’s eye perspective. And now, you’ve finally earned the respect of the Board of directors to be elevated to the position of a CEO. Too bad, they don’t need you anymore. An AI has been brought in to take up the most important role in the company.

You… you get to be a valued member of the “company”. Perhaps, you might even make it onto the board if the rest of the members allow it but that’s straying away from the point.

Robots are the perfect workers

Much has been said about robots replacing those in the minimum wage bracket. The very demographic which tends to picket in front of towering highrises while the corporate overlords ho-hum over the revenue loss caused because the “resources” aren’t exactly at work. For the overlords, it’s practically a utopia if the insolent workforce were to be replaced by mindless robots that do exactly what they’re asked to and that too without any question. Aside from a little down time to recharge, these robots are the perfect solution. Machines don’t have to go back to their families. Machines don’t have to attend their daughter’s recitals or cheer at their son’s athletics meet. Machines don’t take away a cheque every week or month, and they definitely don’t need to be paid a bonus. Perfect! Little do the managers realise that their jobs face the very same uncertainty as that of the plebs do.

If I am to speak in the management parlance, then the economies of scale affect each and everyone in an organisation when it comes to being replaced by AI. You input less in terms of resources and gain an unending source of skill i.e. the AI. Throw away all those expensive training exercises to bring your workers up to speed with industry shifts. Throw away the more expensive conferences that your executives need to be sent to, to get their “training”. All that’s ever going to be needed is data and that’s just a click away. Probably not even that far away since you’ll probably have a massive neural network that’s constantly learning user behaviour to figure out exactly what they need.

No more CEOs

A couple of decades down the line, you’ll never have another charismatic Steve Jobs who had his share of eccentric rituals to figure out the next big thing. It’ll just be that one supercomputer that sends out a weighted list of probable trends. Perhaps even the board of directors wouldn’t have to be involved anymore. They can sit back and enjoy the fruits of their investment while the CEE takes care of the workings of the entire company. CEE, in case you were wondering, stands for Chief Executive Entity.

The good in all of this is the fact that once AI and industrial robots completely replace the human workforce, the human pursuit will change. No longer will getting a job be necessary. We’ll not be grooming our children to learn the sciences with the hope that they’ll one day take up engineering or medicine as a vocation. Instead, each and every human can take up their passion and realise it to its fullest potential. As humanity is defined by its culture, we’ll have complete freedom to reach the zenith of our accomplishments. The transition will be rough, not everyone will immediately realise the opportunities that AI opens for us. It’s this transition period, that will prove to be the most crucial. Since throwing AI into the mix tends to accelerate things pretty quickly (read runaway effect), should there be a conflict, then the AI will take care of it in the most ‘efficient’ manner possible. I’ll keep the term ‘efficient’ open to interpretation but at the end of it all, I hope we enter the best of our times.

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Mithun Mohandas

While not dishing out lethal doses of sarcasm, this curious creature can often be found tinkering with tech, playing vidya' games or exploring the darkest corners of the Internets. #PCMasterRace