Businesses will lead AI regulation
Artificial Intelligence (AI) regulation has gone mainstream.
Previously the concern of specialist think-tanks, policy influencers and science fiction enthusiasts, a flood of recent interventions show that AI regulation is now a core focus for some of the world’s most powerful organizations and governments.
To kick off 2020 the White House set out its guidance for the regulation of artificial intelligence made up of ten key principles, from building public trust to promoting safety and security.
But rather than control AI development, the announcement and U.S. stance is a way to balance more stringent regulatory positions being considered and implemented by other international bodies like the EU and G7.
To regulate or not to regulate
Beyond the White House, AI took centre stage in technology debates emerging from the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, argued that AI is unlike anything we have seen before and has greater potential than fire or electricity in improving our lives.
While recognizing the singular power of AI to positively change the world in areas from healthcare to fighting climate change, Pichai also suggested government regulation must play a role in preventing AI from being used for mass surveillance or to negatively impact human rights.
Microsoft’s President, Brad Smith, called for similar regulation, although with a lighter touch.
He compared current EU proposals to ban facial recognition in public spaces to a ‘meat cleaver’ where a ‘scalpel’ would be more appropriate. Elsewhere, human rights groups are pushing back against recent announcements in the UK that facial recognition would be rolled out by police.
Despite the noise, these debates boil down to managing the age-old challenge that comes with new technology—the balance between supporting innovation and progress, and reducing the risk of abuse.
Benefits of AI in the workplace and why it’s here to stay
Much of the debate around AI has centred on how it could be used in the future by public bodies and governments. These are undoubtedly important discussions but what’s often overlooked are uses of AI available to organizations today, and how these should be governed both internally and externally.
With estimates suggesting AI can add an additional $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030, it won’t only be the Silicon Valley giants or politicians taking note of AI’s potential.
One of the most transformative roles AI is playing in enterprises today is unlocking human intelligence. Just 20% of knowledge is currently recorded in businesses—the rest is undocumented, meaning it resides only in an employee’s mind.
AI can use all types of data sources to identify expertise across an organization. It can map skills across a company and connect employees with the information they need.
It also means that teams can share their skills and learn new ones from one another with ease—something that’s increasingly important to the growing millennial and Gen Z workforce.
But for large businesses and enterprises, these benefits are even more acute. When you have an organization with tens or hundreds of thousands of employees, inefficiencies can snowball exponentially.
Having a (not uncommon) attrition rate of 20% can be the equivalent of thousands of employees changing every single year.
That adds up to tens of thousands of workdays lost every year on onboarding and training new joiners—each one of which can cost companies 200% of their yearly salary just to get up to speed and ready to work (not to mention a burnt-out HR department).
AI can also help new joiners rapidly share their skills and proactively find the knowledge they need while simultaneously better retaining the knowledge of those who leave a business in order to pass it on to future joiners or upskill current employees.
Identifying risks and working with AI effectively
AI used by knowledge workers in the workplace to share skills will not be the same as the AI used, for example, by the military or the police—and it shouldn’t be treated as such.
That doesn’t mean its roll-out doesn’t require a considered approach.
One of the best questions businesses can, and should ask, is how they will use AI? Will AI enhance your workforce, boost people’s ability to share skills, gain knowledge, problem solve and work together? If the answer is yes to these questions, then this technology will help people, not hinder them.
As policymakers and influencers comment and decide on how AI will function on a macro level, organizations have a responsibility to use the AI available to them ethically.
Electricity improved and transformed people’s lives in ways we could have never imagined. AI has the same opportunity but this comes with great responsibility. Just like any transformative technology, standards and regulations will be implemented to scale the benefits of AI.
It’s now down to businesses to take on the challenge and ensure their focus is on the benefits AI can offer to humans.
By Marc Vontobel, Founder and CTO at Starmind
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.