Developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning have caused prominent observers, such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, to raise alarms about computers supplanting, or even eliminating, humans. More have worried that computers will eliminate a shockingly large proportion of human jobs. Computerized machines have already taken jobs on assembly lines and in fast-food restaurants, but could they assume corporate leadership, as Alibaba founder Jack Ma has suggested?
In theory, and perhaps ultimately in practice, artificial intelligences could perform the leadership tasks that companies expect from their CEOs. A CEO’s wisdom and experience are essentially pattern recognition, at which AI’s can excel, and they will increasingly be able to recognize and appeal to human emotion. Ma, among others, has argued that AIs will lead businesses better than humans do, because they are not subject to bias or irrationality. As we examine the strengths and weaknesses of potential artificial business leaders, we may realize that both may have been exaggerated, but in ways that apply to human leadership as well. Perhaps, in the end, as we explore the ramifications of the increasing role of artificial intelligence in business, we need to re-examine the role of human intelligence as well.
Lawrence T. Greenberg is Chief Legal Officer of The Motley Fool Holdings and a Venture Partner of Motley Fool Ventures. Before joining the Fool in 1996, he practiced securities and intellectual property law at the Palo Alto firm of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati and helped found the Project on Information Technology and National Security at the Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation, where he was the lead author for one of the earliest books on the international law of cyberwarfare.
He clerked for Judge Jerry E. Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and served as an attorney at the NSA, a graduate fellow analyst for counterterrorism at the CIA, and as a member of the 2000 Defense Science Board Defensive Information Operations Task Force Legal Panel.
As an adjunct professor of law, he has taught classes on privacy and emerging technologies at George Mason University School of Law and on business associations and securities regulation at the American University Washington College of Law.
He is an independent trustee for a mutual fund group, a member of FINRA’s Investor Issues advisory committee, and a mentor at the PeaceTech Accelerator. Lawrence received his A.B. from Harvard and J.D. and M.A. in political science from Stanford.
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