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The Dual Significance of Generative AI: Ethical and Business Imperatives

IBM recently conducted a global experiment where it asked its 250,000 employees to volunteer to use artificial intelligence (AI) for a week. Around 160,000 employees agreed to participate, highlighting the potential interest and willingness of workers to embrace AI technology in the workplace. However, this also leaves 80,000 employees who declined to participate, raising questions about the transition to AI for all individuals. IBM’s CEO, Arvind Krishna, believes that generative AI will significantly impact white-collar jobs, particularly those that involve repetitive tasks easily automated. Employers face the challenge of determining the roles for employees who are unable to adapt to the cognitive demands of AI technology.

CEOs from various companies gathered for a Fortune virtual event to discuss the ethical and business implications of generative AI. They agreed that while AI offers productivity benefits, it also presents liabilities that need to be carefully weighed by every industry. As population growth slows in Western countries, AI may be essential to maintaining at least 3% annual gross domestic product growth and supporting economies in regions like Europe, Japan, and the United States. Ravi Kumar, CEO of Cognizant, argues that AI can improve social mobility in the workforce by eliminating pain points and creating a better working environment.

The survey commissioned by Boston Consulting Group with MIT Sloan revealed that 84% of BCG’s clients were aware of the risks of AI, but only 16% believed they had a mature way of responding to these risks. Potential liabilities emerge from elements of AI that impact strategic aspects of work, such as movie screenwriting or drug discovery, which may unknowingly infringe on intellectual property. Sharon Marcil, North America chair and managing director at Boston Consulting Group, emphasizes the need for a designated person responsible for AI and embedding risk protection into both risk and core processes within organizations.

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