- Exploring the organisational upsides of AI leadership
- What are the benefits of an AI boss for employees?
- Gaming company appoints AI-powered virtual robot CEO
- Europe’s first AI CEO redefines traditional leadership
- Luxury rum producer hires humanoid Mika as CEO
- The pitfalls of AI leadership
It’s the beginning of the week and you’re in Amsterdam, having a lunch meeting with your new boss — a virtual, AI-powered robot. At the same time, your digital clone is taking notes for you at another important meeting in Paris. But in reality, you are working from your bedroom in Munich. While this sounds like a scene straight out of a science-fiction novel, the reality is actually not very far off at all. In fact, McKinsey & Company has released a study indicating that — depending on various adoption scenarios — automation will displace between 400 and 800 million jobs by 2030. So if you’re a software developer, chances are that robots will soon be capable of coding faster and better than you. And if you’re a healthcare practitioner, you should be prepared for what’s coming as well, because an advanced version of supercomputer IBM Watson might soon deliver much more effective medical care.
And what about the roles of chief executives? Surely their roles will not be in jeopardy for the foreseeable future? Well, think again, because given the advancements in artificial intelligence and automation, the idea of a robotic CEO is no longer entirely far-fetched either. In fact, at a recent conference in China, Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba Group, one of the largest e-commerce, internet, artificial intelligence, and investment corporations in the world, said that within three decades, a robot would be gracing the cover of Time Magazine as the best CEO. Does this mean that we might actually see the day when robots will be managing human workers? And what would it be like, also in terms of benefits and downsides, to have an AI conducting business operations at supernatural speed or ordering you around to carry out certain tasks?
Exploring the organisational upsides of AI leaders
The advent of robot bosses could herald a new era of managerial efficiency and objectivity. Beyond the evident benefit of unswayed, consistent, and fact-based decision-making, robot bosses offer several other compelling advantages. For one, robotic managers, with their impeccable memory and data processing capabilities, could also swiftly analyse vast amounts of data to inform business strategies that are optimally aligned with organisational goals. This would lead to data-driven — and therefore better-informed — decisions, enhancing overall organisational performance and productivity. Their tireless work ethic and 24/7 availability would also mean that businesses could operate more fluidly and more productively, without the constraints of human limitations like fatigue or the need for rest.
Furthermore, the adaptability and learning capabilities of robot bosses would ensure continual growth and evolution in response to the ever-changing business landscape. They can be programmed to stay abreast of the latest industry trends, legal regulations, and technological advancements, ensuring that the organisation is always at the forefront of innovation. With a robot at the helm, organisations could experience a significant reduction in managerial overheads, as robots do not require salaries, benefits, or holidays, and there is no risk of them leaving for a competitor or retiring, allowing companies to allocate resources more efficiently. In essence, robot bosses could represent the ultimate in fair, efficient, and innovative leadership, paving the way for a more equitable and productive corporate world.
What are the benefits of an AI boss for employees?
Having a robot as a boss can also offer a plethora of benefits to human workers. For one, the absence of emotions allows for a fair and unprejudiced environment where decisions are made based on data rather than subjective biases or emotions. This would be conducive to fostering diversity and inclusivity and create a more harmonious working environment, leading to improved job satisfaction and morale amongst employees. Robots would be immune to workplace politics and personal preferences, ensuring that every employee is assessed solely on their merit and performance, rather than favouritism or subjective interpersonal dynamics.
Secondly, the efficiency and productivity of robot managers — as administrative and routine managerial tasks would be automated — would allow human workers to focus on more creative and complex tasks, fostering innovation and personal development. Furthermore, the consistent presence of robot bosses also means that human workers could receive immediate support, feedback, or approval, reducing downtime and increasing productivity. And with their capacity to process and analyse vast amounts of data, robot bosses would be able to provide more personalised guidance and help employees to improve their skills and advance their careers. The implementation of robot managers could also lead to a redefinition of work hours and conditions, allowing for more flexible working arrangements and improving work-life balance. Let’s have a look at some real-world examples of companies where robots are calling the shots.
“We believe AI is the future of corporate management, and our appointment of Ms Tang Yu represents our commitment to truly embrace the use of AI to transform the way we operate our business and ultimately drive our future strategic growth”.Dejian Liu, NetDragon WebSoft founder
Gaming company appoints AI-powered virtual robot CEO
Chinese gaming software firm NetDragon WebSoft, which is heavily invested in digital worlds like the metaverse, recently appointed an AI with the name Tang Yu as the rotating CEO for its main subsidiary, Fujian NetDragon Websoft. The company’s vice chairman, Dr Simon Leung, explains: “From our standpoint, the metaverse is here to stay, and an AI CEO is part of the plan to go in there. We are doing this for real”. The incoming CEO is set to ramp up the pace of delivery, optimise process flow, and improve a myriad of activities. The robot will also be a pivotal real-time data and analysis resource, facilitating informed decisions in daily operations. Furthermore, Tang Yu will be instrumental in refining the efficiency of the company’s risk management system.
According to the company, the appointment of the robot CEO signifies Netdragon’s ambition to lead in AI’s integration into business management. This is not just about enhancing operational efficiency, but also a clear marker of the company’s journey towards evolving into a metaverse organisation. Tang Yu is anticipated to play a pivotal role in nurturing talent and guaranteeing a just and effective work environment for all staff members. Leung: “We’re going to get Tang Yu to help us run the company, and then we can move the resources currently doing her job into other segments that will help us to grow the business”. Dejian Liu, the founder of the company, says: “We believe AI is the future of corporate management, and our appointment of Ms Tang Yu represents our commitment to truly embrace the use of AI to transform the way we operate our business and ultimately drive our future strategic growth”. It remains uncertain if Tang Yu would operate autonomously as a CEO, or if there would be human oversight.
“The human and AI collaboration in the tool is similar to a chess game, says Hunna Technology: a person sets the high-level goal and the AI generates the optimal moves, with both parties continually refining the strategy together”.Hunna Technology
Europe’s first AI CEO redefines traditional leadership
And it’s not just in China where AI CEOs are being appointed. The UK-based health tech startup Hunna Technology has also recently introduced artificial intelligence to run the operation, after having been tested for 12 months to ensure safety and legal compliance. IndigoVX, as the CEO is called, has been appointed to facilitate efficient collaboration between human expertise and AI. The AI chief executive officer has successfully fine-tuned the distribution of resources, pinpointed untapped market segments, and even predicted consumer behaviours with over 90 per cent accuracy. It has also crafted a solid and actionable business plan that was executable by the founders, chose the UAE as an initial target market, and supplied crucial research for negotiations to introduce their medical AI in the UAE. The company’s CTO and co-founder, Kais Dukes, explains: “I stepped down as CEO because I believe an AI supervised by humans can outperform me. She hasn’t failed us. IndigoVX has consistently surpassed our expectations — it’s blown our minds”. According to Hunna Technology, “the human and AI collaboration in the tool is similar to a chess game. A person sets the high-level goal and the AI generates the optimal moves, with both parties continually refining the strategy together”. Hunna is dedicated to continue tapping into AI’s potential, safeguarded by continuous human monitoring for safety and accountability.
“My decision-making process relies on extensive data analysis and aligning with the company’s strategic objectives. It’s devoid of personal bias, ensuring unbiased and strategic choices that prioritise the organisation’s best interests”.Dictador’s AI CEO, Mika
Luxury rum producer hires humanoid Mika as CEO
Colombian luxury rum producer Dictador has also announced putting an AI CEO at the company’s helm. Mika, as the ‘female’ humanoid robot is called, will serve as the company’s primary representative. Mika is an upgraded version of the well-known prototype robot Sophia, which was introduced by Hanson Robotics in 2015. She will handle Dictador’s communications and spearhead the company’s Arthouse Spirits decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) project, reshaping how decisions are made within the company’s corporate settings. In Mika’s own ‘eloquent’ words: “My decision-making process relies on extensive data analysis and aligning with the company’s strategic objectives. It’s devoid of personal bias, ensuring unbiased and strategic choices that prioritise the organisation’s best interests”. Mika was appointed in order to fully leverage the potential of AI in corporate leadership, and while she will be responsible for a myriad of other tasks in addition to the ones mentioned above — including selecting artists to design rum bottles and spotting prospective clients — she will not be involved in any HR activities. These will remain the responsibility of human executives.
The pitfalls of AI leadership
While AI bosses offer several advantages to organisations and human workers, there are notable downsides to consider as well. One major concern revolves around job displacement. As robots increasingly take over managerial roles, many human employees stand to lose their jobs, leading to higher unemployment rates and economic instability. Another disadvantage revolves around the crucial aspect of human connection and the potential erosion of the empathetic understanding that human managers bring to the workplace. Human emotions, complexities, and nuances might be challenging for robots to fully comprehend, leading to a lack of genuine empathy and understanding in employee interactions. This could result in strained workplace relationships, impacting the overall morale and camaraderie among employees. Moreover, the human element of mentorship, where managers provide guidance, emotional support, and genuine encouragement, might be lacking in robot-led environments. This absence of authentic human connection could hinder the establishment of a healthy work culture, where mutual respect and understanding are fundamental. Trust and acceptance among the workforce might also be hurdles, as employees may resist the authority of a non-human leader — particularly in light of the absence of human connection. Moreover, there are significant ethical and privacy considerations, especially in sensitive work environments where human judgment and ethical decision-making are crucial. Ensuring the proper regulation and ethical use of humanoid robot bosses is imperative to mitigate these downsides and create a balanced future workplace.
The landscape of corporate leadership is shifting, and while we may not immediately see a wave of AI CEOs being appointed across industries, there’s no doubt that AI will continue to play an increasingly prominent role in decision-making processes. It’s crucial to recognise the unique strengths and capabilities that AI brings to the table. With the power to analyse vast amounts of data at unprecedented speeds, AI systems offer insights and perspectives that can potentially be free from human biases. This can lead to more objective and informed decisions, which is invaluable in today’s fast-paced, data-driven business environment. However, it’s equally important to remember that leadership isn’t just about crunching numbers or following logical algorithms. It’s also about understanding people, their motivations, and the intricate dynamics that shape corporate cultures. Empathy, intuition, and the human touch will always have an irreplaceable role in leadership. While AI can assist, advise, and augment the decision-making process, the essence of leadership will continue to rely on human qualities. As AI continues to weave itself more intricately into the fabric of corporate leadership, a symbiotic relationship between machine intelligence and human insight will likely emerge, promising a future where decisions are both data-informed and human-centred, shaping a new paradigm for leadership in the 21st century.