All eyes on AI companies following Davos 2024

By Dan O’Connell, Chief AI Officer at Dialpad.

  • 2 months ago Posted in

Davos 2024 saw tech titans, world leaders and leading entrepreneurs gather to discuss the most pressing economic, political, and social challenges of our time, yet one topic once again dominated proceedings - AI. From a giant digital wall of AI art that greeted attendees as they walked into the main conference centre, to the ‘AI house’ that served as a gathering spot to discuss the technology’s wide-ranging impact, AI could be found at every turn.

For those who follow Davos, AI being a central talking point in the sessions won’t come as a surprise - after all, we saw similar buzz following last year’s event. Where the discussions differ this time however, is that AI is no longer being discussed as a far off concept that will affect our future, but instead as a transformative tool that will change our present. Davos has made it abundantly clear that we’ve moved past the time for broad speaking when it comes to AI.

Whether it was education executives highlighting the importance of developing AI skills or politicians cautioning the technology's potential to manipulate elections, everyone is trying to find their place in the world of AI. But what do all these developments mean for the companies that are building the AI systems that will be at the forefront of ‘fourth industrial revolution?’

Building an AI-ready job workforce

A mounting concern over AI’s accelerating adoption is that the global labour market isn’t prepared for its impact, and this was a talking point that was top of mind for many leaders at Davos. Ahead of the conference the IMF released a new analysis reporting that artificial intelligence will affect 40% of jobs around the world. Critically, the analysis also highlighted that AI’s impact will not only be felt in monotonous roles, but have implications for high-skilled jobs. While these statistics appear alarming at first sight, many at Davos were keen to stress that this can be a positive evolution, provided workers are equipped with the right skills to work alongside AI.

In the session, Generative AI: Steam Engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Code.org's CEO, Hadi Partovi, remarked that there needs to be a shift in mindset when it comes to AI displacement. Rather than being replaced by AI, it will be the workers who lack the skills to work with AI who will face greater displacement. As Partovi continued, “It's not that the worker gets replaced by just a robot or a machine in most cases, especially for desk jobs, it's that some better educated or more modernly educated worker can do that job because they can be twice as productive or three times as productive".

This underscores why it's imperative organisations are identifying the transferable skills among their workforce that can help with AI adoption. Business leaders should be working directly with their

employees on their AI skill sets, not only to help future proof their workforce, but also to ensure the technology is being implemented to drive the greatest business impact.

The importance of trusted data

‘Rebuilding Trust’ was the central theme guiding the discussions around this year’s Davos, of which AI was front and centre. As part of the session ‘Technology in a Turbulent World’, it was raised that people using AI can often “let their guard down”, and are more willing to trust the data presented to them, even if it is inaccurate. Now that leaders have come to grips with the technology’s benefits, the discussions around Davos reaffirm that the next step in the technology’s evolution is ensuring that platforms are generating answers that are relevant, accurate and can be relied upon without the need of extra verification.

What’s critical to remember is that an AI platform is only as accurate as the data it is built on. The larger public AI platforms that tend to be highlighted in the media are more prone to mistakes/hallucinations because they are often pulling from large, boundless, and unregulated data sources. The fallout from Davos suggests that we’re at a critical turning point for AI implementation, where companies are keen to use the technology, but want reassurances that the information they are receiving has been built with accuracy. With this being said, we’re likely to see more and more organisations turn away from platforms that pull from public and unrefined data source. Instead, organisations will look to adopt platforms that have been developed with refined, private data sets that are more specific to their organisational needs.

Businesses cannot afford to neglect human oversight

Across the discussions, it was reiterated throughout Davos that the role of human oversight remains critical if we are to ensure AI is being deployed responsibly. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touched on this in his fireside discussion with WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, noting that “We have to take the unintended consequences of any new technology along with all the benefits, and think about them simultaneously, as opposed to waiting for the unintended consequences to show up and then address them”. Without human presence monitoring, or ‘parenting’ of AI systems, the danger of inaccuracies and biases increases.

With human monitoring in place, organisations are safeguarding AI by regularly training and vetting data to ensure the information being generated remains relevant, and safe, to use. While many are looking to capitalise on the benefits of AI, Davos highlights the importance of the balance needed between innovation and moderation.

Davos 2024 has made it clear that we’ve fast moved into an AI-driven world, but also highlights that there is still work to be done if we are to ensure the technology is being implemented to its highest potential. If last year’s Davos centred around the hype of AI, this year’s event was all about implementation and strategisation. While fears of wide job displacement were downplayed, it’s been

made clear that major efforts into reskilling workforces remains a top priority. The importance of trust and AI was also a predominant talking point, and underscores the responsibility AI companies have to ensure that they are building platforms from moderated and monitored datasets. We’re at a turning point in the AI evolution, and transparency has never been more paramount in ensuring we’re on the road to building trusted systems that will impact our working lives, and beyond, for good.

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