For those who missed it, here is the recording of the recent UC Business School MBA Thought Leadership panel event on 30th March featuring Woolworths NZ GM Data & Analytics Kari Jones, Westland Milk Head of Digital Improvement Gareth Mitchell and myself, moderated by UC MBA Programme Director Elsamari Botha.
We had a 90-minute(!) thought-provoking discussion on the vast topic of AI just 2 weeks after OpenAI released GPT-4, focusing on the latest developments in generative AI such as ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot, MidJourney, Dall-E, Stable Diffusion and many more... and in particular their impacts for Aotearoa New Zealand businesses and the economy.
Key takeaways for me:
1. Technology continues to accelerate and AI is now speeding development of even more software and AI. As Gareth said: "the bullet train is leaving the station"... very little time left to get on board. The huge potential benefits are exciting... but also with some scary downsides!
2. Aotearoa's businesses need to engage with AI and technology generally: as Kari said, get into the practice of lots of rapid, "micro innovation" experiments with new tech and create a culture of curiosity in your organisation!
3. In particular, the impact on work and jobs is going to be profound: every service industry role from administration to software development will be (a) boosted short term with a massive productivity dividend from generative AI tools but (b) potentially fully automated soon after.
Whether enough people can re-skill quickly enough before the new skills are themselves automated is unclear right now. We agreed with calls to start working on what a "just transition" to a post-AI economy might look like - including policies such as Universal Basic Income, shortened work weeks and lifelong learning opportunities.
4. The tsunami of AI-generated content, particularly deepfakes, is just around the corner. This may fundamentally break collective societal narratives, creating "fractured realities".
5. Internationally, deployment decisions and control of these powerful new AI technologies is concentrated in the hands of a very small number of people and companies, almost exclusively in the US and Chinese tech sectors. International governance mechanisms are needed. (But recent calls for a moratorium on development are unlikely to result in any meaningful outcomes...) Fundamentally for Aotearoa, the country has been sleepwalking into becoming a net "technology taker" and this likely has long term implications for national sovereignty ...my assertion is that greater investment and international collaboration is required to ensure alternative choices are available (likely open source technology platforms).
6. We should expect more from New Zealand's businesses and government to better anticipate future technology-driven change: (a) building foresight and scenario planning capabilities and (b) investing in curiosity and innovation to have any chance of skin in the game in future.Listen to the audio above or watch the recording below online.
Many thanks to Elsamari, the team at UC Business School and the highly engaged audience for producing an event full of humour, provocation and insight!