25 October 2023

In the modern world, artificial intelligence (AI) is playing an increasingly prominent role in shaping our future. From healthcare to energy, transport to data management, AI is entering every aspect of our lives, offering immense potential and complex challenges. In a recent lecture, entitled "Shaping a Future with AI – What is required of management" researchers shared insights into the management challenges and opportunities that AI presents. 

Open lecture about AI in the library. Teiksma Buseva

The lecture featured Nicolette Lakemond professor in Industrial Management and Gunnar Holmberg, Adjunct Professor at Division Project, Innovations and Entrepreneurship. It is part of the lecture series Research just around the corner, which during the autumn semester 2023 has the theme "AI & language models - the future is here".

The duality of AI: promise and concerns

The lecture began by addressing the duality of AI. On the one hand, AI offers the promise of transformative change and societal benefits. For example, it can improve healthcare in regions with limited access to medical personnel, aid in multilingual communication, and reduce food waste in the supply chain. AI, when harnessed properly, can contribute to solving some of the most pressing issues our world faces.

On the other hand, concerns about AI are equally widespread. The lecture highlighted the potential for AI systems to reiterate bias found in historical data, leading to AI systems that reflect human prejudices and inequalities. The question of whether, how, and to what extent AI can be trusted, is important. This dual perspective is a reminder of the importance of finding a balance in our approach to AI.

AI and management: a complex relationship and a complex system

The lecture delved into the role of management in organizations that are shaping AI systems.

A women presenting her research.Nicolette Lakemond, professor in Industrial Management. Photo credit Teiksma Buseva

“Management has a critical role in maximizing AI's benefits for society while minimizing its risks. Addressing these challenges requires management but not only – it calls for societal commitment and holistic perspectives,” says Nicolette Lakemond.

Professor Gunnar Holmberg drew parallels with previous concerns on the complexity of systems. He explains that decades ago, following severe accidents in the chemical plant in Bophal, space shuttle Challenger and nuclear plant Three Mile Island, concerns were raised about the growing complexity of systems and the increased risk for catastrophic failures. At the time, there was a great reliance on operators to be able to resolve difficult situations. However, we have not seen a growth in such catastrophic failures, and it is believed that part of the reason is that technology and system design have concentrated on simplifying the operation of such systems and making them safer.

A man presenting his researchGunnar Holmberg, Adjunct Professor at Division Project, Innovations and Entrepreneurship. Photo credit Teiksma Buseva

“AI is further expanding system complexities, and when systems are evolving to systems of systems acting in a dynamic context we will probably see much effort to again address these issues as complex systems are becoming increasingly intelligent. ” says Gunnar Holmberg.

Organizational challenges and opportunities

Nicolette Lakemond and Gunnar Holmberg emphasized that AI introduces organizational design questions related to the roles of humans and AI. It requires balancing specialization and integration, human authority and system autonomy. As the complexity of systems increases, organizations must consider their broader societal responsibilities and adapt to new modes of management and organisation.

“While management can help navigate these complexities, it may not provide all the solutions. The ability to navigate and adapt is key,” concludes Nicolette Lakemond. 

 

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