AI is an opportunity to redefine entire ecosystems

Jeff Wong on choosing to embrace change rather than feeding the dialogue of fear.

By Jeff Wong and Roger Magoulas
June 17, 2019
Desert dunes Desert dunes (source: Jpeter2 via Pixabay)

O’Reilly’s Roger Magoulas sat down with Jeff Wong, global chief innovation officer at EY, to discuss the impact of artificial intelligence (AI). Wong talked about how organizations are grappling with emerging technologies, why your company should make AI a priority, and how to train for jobs that don’t yet exist.

Highlights from Wong and Magoulas’ discussion include:

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Company boards aren’t asking the right questions because they lack the diversity that reflects the things they need to know about the world. Wong says board members tend to be hired for what they’ve done for the past 30 years, which would be fine if the next 10 years was going to look like the last 30. (1:41)

Automation and AI are changing things quickly. The question for companies is whether to embrace these changes or feed into the dialogue of fear. Wong argues that every industry should look at this an opportunity to redefine themselves and their entire ecosystem. (6:44)

Hollywood reactions like “the world’s going to end” and “the robots are going to come get us” aside, the reality is that AI as a set of technologies has the potential for an immediate return on investment. (13:03)

Wong’s company is working to apply blockchain concepts to the enterprise with research around things like zero knowledge proofs, which allow private transactions to “ride the public blockchain rails,” he says. In conjunction with Microsoft, they built a royalties management system for Microsoft’s gaming group, which at scale might be the highest volume blockchain in the world. It will be bigger than bitcoin and ethereum combined on a daily basis, Wong estimates. (14:12)

Looking ahead to the jobs our kids will have, Wong cites a statistic that around 80% of the jobs kids will be able to consider haven’t yet been created. That speaks to how organizations need to change. He says companies now need to look for young people who can solve complex problems in uncertain environments, because that’s really the issue at hand. How do we train employees for jobs that don’t yet exist? How do we train our kids to think about a world that we cannot define for them? Wong notes specific skill sets — like being able to code or learning math — are important, but what’s more important is the “learning how to learn” aspect of that. (16:46)

You can see Wong’s complete presentation in the video above.

Post topics: AI & ML, Future of the Firm
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