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The World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting is currently taking place in Davos, Switzerland, with the theme “Responsive and Responsible Leadership.”
On the second day of WEF 2017, the impact of technology on the future workforce, especially that of artificial intelligence (AI), dominated many of the discussions in Davos.
During the “The Real Impact of Artificial Intelligence” panel business leaders gathered to discuss AI’s transformative potential and how products can be designed to benefit society as a whole. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Naella said, “We can choose whether AI replaces or augments humanity at work.” Naella emphasized the importance of democratization of AI and making it broadly accessible across the globe.
On another panel, Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman said the reason why so many millennials felt left behind by society was because “chickens had come to roost.” Falling trust in institutions; economic dislocation; and changes in technology had all hit young people hard, she said.“It’s up to leaders in this room, particularly in the technology field, to think ‘How do we help manage the transition of people who have been disrupted by robotics or automation’ – which, by the way, is a far bigger cause of job losses in the U.S. than economic globalization,” Whitman said.
Responsible leadership and a moral imperative to leverage AI’s full potential was the theme of the panel titled “AI: Balancing Opportunity and Responsibility.”
Devin Wenig, CEO of eBay, said the fear of automation destroying jobs had to addressed by industry leaders. “It’s important to have a direct conversation, that there are jobs that are going to be impacted,” he said.
Dr. David Hanson, CEO of Hanson Robotics, said “It’s our responsibility to ease the transition for people, and think about how we can use AI for greater societal good.” He added, “It’s the ethical and moral obligation of designers and business people to make that technology meet people on human terms.”
Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, noted that there are five key principles to ‘steer AI to the good.’ Accountability, transparency, honesty, fairness, and a human-centric approach can help the future workforce to thrive alongside AI, he said.
Overall, the conversation on artificial intelligence at WEF 2017 had an optimistic tone, focusing on its potential benefits for the future workforce.
“Equal access to technology is essential to improving society and addressing inequality gaps,” Daugherty said.
To learn more about the Future Workforce research, download the report: Harnessing the Revolution
Follow live updates from the Accenture community at WEF 2017.