Expert: Embracing AI is the way forward

Strategic adviser and executive coach Shane Ram.

COMPANIES that fail to use artificial intelligence (AI) may be out of business in the next five years.

That is the perspective of strategic adviser and executive coach Shane Ram.

But while the conversation around using AI is ongoing, a critical point to note is people’s adaptability to the technology, he said.

Ram made the comments while addressing a room full of businessmen and businesswomen during a forum at the 86th Annual General Meeting of the Shipping Association of Trinidad and Tobago last week.

“There are basically going to be two futures; one that utilises artificial intelligence or you’re going to be out of business,” he said. Under the theme “Leveraging Disruption for Growth: Unleashing Potential in times of Change”, Ram spoke to the significance of companies embracing this technological change that he deemed a massive wave of disruption. But disruption is a good thing, he said.

He implored that artificial intelligence must not be seen as a threat but instead as a tool and a partner. “A partner that will enable you to work smarter not harder, a partner that will augment our capabilities not replace them, a partner that will help us see patterns, make predictions and solve problems in ways we never thought possible,” he said.

For this to happen though, there must be a change in mindset, he noted, saying “Future-proof your mindset because it’s all about change …it’s not something that human beings like to do, it’s not something that the brain is wired to do…so we will also talk about something called neuro-leadership and how the brain works to help people to change and adapt.

“So, while we talk about artificial intelligence, we need to talk about your adaptability to change, your staff’s adaptability to change, that is going to be a critical skill going forward,” Ram said.

He pointed out the importance of embracing the inevitable, mentioning the familiar term that “change is the only constant”. Ram said he understands that while the term may be overused, it remains a fact.

“It is inevitable, it is true, it is a truth that is not going to change. Now, sometimes change makes us uncomfortable, it provides discomfort, but hear something, when we sit in one place, when we don’t move, when we don’t change it is something called atrophy.

“Neurologically, biologically we suffer from atrophy and that is not good for the brain to make decisions and to solve problems. So, change allows us to grow and discomfort is a good thing,” said.

The third idea, he said, is that AI is a tool, not a tyrant “because when we start to talk about the capabilities a lot of people get scared”. He repeated, it is not a tyrant, it’s based-on intelligence, higher forms of intelligence do not want to dominate us, “it’s humans who want to dominate others”.

Admitting that as a result of AI’s ability to create things “yes, people could use it for negative things but that has been so for everything since time immemorial. So, what is important is to understand, you know I do a lot of brain work, so to speak, so the neuroscience of change resistance. You all should be very familiar with the saying ‘a smooth sea doesn’t make a skilled sailor’, so therefore we should embrace the disruption but also understand how the brain works and resistance to change because the brain likes comfort, it likes familiarity,” he explained.

He continued: “When something is disruptive, we get resistant to it. So, you need to understand that yourself as leaders your natural brain’s reaction is to resist, you want your staff to come a long, they are going to resist. It is just how their brain is wired; nothing is wrong with them, because the brain is wired to protect us. We don’t like change,” adding that the unfamiliar may seem dangerous therefore the brain is protective in nature. “So, there is a term call psychological safety now but it’s really making people feel safe about change cause it’s going to happen.”

He explained that a critical factor in business moving forward is its adaptability to change.

“You as the leaders need to understand what’s happening in you, what’s happening in your staff and probably most of all in yourself because you are the leader, you are more trained, you are more experienced, you take more risk than other people,” he said

Concerns about AI taking over jobs

Ram insisted that AI can in fact “quadruple your workforce without adding a cent to payroll.” This, he said, is the minimal potential of the use of AI. He reiterated that the resistance felt is a sign of learning noting that “AI is changing like crazy fast every day”. He urged “change is a good thing because what happens is that studies have shown that when you have these shocks and you’re able to deal with it you are able to build what we call resilience.”

Addressing concerns that AI could take away creativity, Ram indicated that it actually adds to people’s creativity, stating that it does not take away creativity but instead forces individuals to be more creative.

Moreover, Ram challenged his audience by asking them to ponder on several areas as they move forward in their business including “have you prioritised AI as the most important tech in your life as yet? Are you clear about AI’s impact on your family, how your children learn? Are clear how AI is going to impact your business and your industry?”

Additionally, he said in five years AI will be smarter than us, therefore, “Check your comfort level in dealing with smart people. A lot of leaders don’t like strong people around them, they feel insecure, so you have to get comfortable with this thing being smarter than you or people using it being smarter than you, coming up with ideas and solutions to problems better than you have in all of your years of experience. So, the question is will AI dominate humanity?” To answer that question, he said “I don’t think so, I don’t think its intelligence is built to necessarily do that but the question you have to ask is what is your comfort level.”

According to Ram, companies have to pinpoint the barriers to adopting artificial intelligence, “financial barriers, skill barriers, mindset barriers, what are the barriers to implementing AI in your organisation? You have to (implement AI) otherwise seriously your business will be at risk.”

Drawing an example, he said in medicine “in a few years probably in advanced countries like the United States, a doctor would not be able to give a diagnosis without AI.” He shared that using AI can help with a wide range of things including corporation to customer offerings. He indicated his use of ChatGPT, an AI tool that generates human-like text base, which has been effective. He pointed out, however, “ChatGPT is open so you don’t want to put confidential information, you don’t want to put out intellectual property, when you have your personal AI, it learns you and it keeps getting better and better. So, when I write my social media post now it pulls and it figures out my brand voice.”

He advised companies to start small when using AI “where you want to start is operational efficiency, that is the fastest way to start, it could also help you respond to emails, do advertisements”. Ram concluded, that AI has the potential to radically change your business, your industry noting “it is going to take a learning curve…as you learn it changes, and it gets better, all I have to say is embrace it because it is going to happen.”

Original Source@: TrinidadExpress

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