“On August 29, 2027, at 2:14 PM EST, Skynet, the largest and the most successful financial corporation in the world, conducted an IPO on NASDAQ. As the only human left on staff, the corporate lawyer had to ring the bell. All management positions in the corporation are now held by robots.”
Does this sound like the trailer of a new Terminator film? In fact, it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a reality. We’ve got robots trading at the stock exchange, analyzing big data, and creating elaborate strategies for business games more successfully than humans. The point is, robots are the future, and AI is the brain that will lead it to its destiny. It’s high time companies began recognizing the importance of new scientific technologies and integrating them into the workplace for better productivity. Needless to say, companies that ignore the inevitable will soon find themselves ineffective, unproductive, and at the bottom of the food chain in a very competitive, dog-eat-dog business environment. Those who do, however, learn to leverage the potential of AI for internal management will not only survive, but thrive.
With the help of the several billion dollars that are sitting in the accounts of venture capitalists, and with the right IT and legal infrastructure, the hypothetical Skynet can be created. And when it comes into existence, and gains access to the knowledge and resources it requires to take over the world and enslave humanity, it will be able to develop long-term strategies, analyze risks, and make investment decisions that will be both bold and brilliant.
What this means is the creation of an intelligent robot that is fully aware of its own personality and responsibilities as a manager. With the knowledge of big data and intelligent AI systems, these future managers will be unstoppable in an enterprise. Free from human-like desires and emotions, the mission of these machines will be to take business management to a whole new level. And with all the intelligence they need, minus the anger, lust, and greed of humans, machines will probably be in a better position to make those multibillion-dollar deals within seconds.
Even though Moore’s Law is no longer valid, computers are still expected to enhance their capabilities. Recently, AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence system, defeated Lee Sedol, one of the world’s best Go players. During the press-conference, Lee said he was speechless about how beautifully the system played; he was astonished that the system came up with a move that no human could ever think of. But AIs still need to be taught to perform efficiently in contingency situations, generate hypotheses, and think big. A good sense of humor would be useful too.
Primarily, a wise CEO should be able to ask the right questions, see deeper patterns in daily life, and rationally assess development scenarios. Apart from that, he/she/it should also have “business intuition.” The good news (for robots, not humans) is that intuition is a program too. It’s just a complex one that hasn’t quite been developed yet. More importantly, AI will have the essence of intelligence. Similar to the neocortex of our brain, which is a learning system, AI technology will also have to be a bit like the hyper-logical Spock of “Star Trek.”
The only problem is that currently we lack some of the key technologies needed for creating the complete intelligent machine. All necessary mathematical solutions and logical apparatus for creating such a machine already exist. But these separate technologies have not yet been combined to produce a finished product. The next level of innovative development is the generation of ideas. A robot would see a market demand, generate a thousand ideas in an instant, and then discard all the unworthy ones in its search for a probable hypothesis. As a result, it would have a strategy that could immediately be put into practice. While I estimate that a robot entrepreneur will appear in the next 30-40 years, we should see a functioning and productive robot manager in the office within the next 10 years.
It’s easy to see why financial corporations and investment funds will be the first to hire an AI robot. These are the places where decisions are needed based on knowledge, where the difference between making and losing a hundred million dollars can be a wrong decision. This is also the reason venture funds will be the first to purposefully provide capital for the missing elements of the common puzzle and to collect technologies for a future robocorporation – they have access to the science as well as the financial resources and are beholden to their investors’ mandate. Once all of this is put into place, these AIs will start rolling out through mass licensing and public offerings.
When a company comes along offering a 50 percent annual return on their investment, half of the world’s population will be lining up for shares. The variety of such robocorporations, competing day and night for resources, will open a new era of unconditional basic income available to billions of micro-shareholders worldwide. No excuses will work in the boardrooms any more, only bottom line results, and the losers will probably be turned into scrap-metal.
Once Skynet-like corporations gain access to unlimited financial resources, they will be able to control whole industries, buying factories and plants, increasing their performance and profitability, and replacing the human factor in the workplace with efficient industrial robots. And instead of machines posing a threat to humanity, millions of dismissed workers will not complain because severance will be paid with high-yield shares, thus ensuring a stable income. People will finally be able to enjoy life and have the freedom to try new experiences. While competition and workload won’t disappear, people will simply shift from surviving to enjoying creative fulfillment.
Pavel Cherkashin is a managing partner of GVA Vestor.In. He is a Russian entrepreneur and venture capitalist and was named “Russian Entrepreneur to Watch For” by Mashable. Previously, he was with Microsoft, where he led the consumer and online department in Russia. He also established and managed offices for Adobe in Russia and CIS. Earlier in his career, he founded several IT companies, including Sputnik Labs (now part of TechnoServ Group), AdWatch (now part of AEGIS/Isobar), and Actis Systems (now part of Wunderman).