A symbolic appointment above all, but which makes tangible a problem which the legislators will have to seize without delay.
Artificial intelligence continues to democratize in many areas, and some are not afraid to put the cart before the horse. On August 26, NetDragon Websoft, a Chinese mobile game publisher, has announced the appointment of its new CEO, and its identity, which is surprising… since it is a AI powered humanoid robot.
baptized Tang Yu by its designers, it is not there to do extra work, quite the contrary. The press release from the firm, spotted by Interesting Engineering, explains bluntly that it will actively participate in the company’s decisions.
First, it will serve as data center and will be equipped with a bunch ofanalytical tools. They will allow the Board of Directors to be more effective in terms of risk management and to put in place new protocols to streamline workflows, improve job quality and increase execution speed “.
What is more surprising is that she will even inherit early retirement usually reserved for the HR department; she will play a critical role in the identification and development of young talent. Tang Yu will also be responsible for setting up a “ fair, healthy and productive work environment for all employees “.
A symbolic appointment above all
An approach that would make any European trade unionist cry out loud; it must be admitted that there is a list as long as the arm of potential abuses. But we must also qualify the scope of this appointment. Because even if the press release does not specify it explicitly, it seems rather unlikely that this virtual CEO will have the last word during the decision-making process.
As it stands, this title of CEO seems above all symbolic; Tang Yu will be above all a tool at the service of the real decision-makers who will make it possible to refine the decision-making process. NetDragon employees are unlikely to start kowtowing to the robot.
So is it a cleverly orchestrated communication stunt? Probably… but not only. Advertising sleight of hand or not, Tang Yu could still set an important precedent. And it’s not a question of the organization chart.
In practice, it doesn’t matter if this android has inherited the title of CEO on paper; once you scrape the layer of varnish, you realize that in practice, NetDragon has simply announced the acquisition of an AI-based tool that will help it make more objective decisions.
But what is important is that this robot gives a more tangible, and even very concrete dimension to the use of these analytical tools in business. And it’s a rather significant gesture, in a context where these technologies are being established more and more deeply in the world of work.
Robot CEO or not, the AI is already coming at a fast pace
This also applies to normal businesses that have no plans to replace their flesh-and-blood kingpin with a robot. And this is all the more true in very large firms which tend to make their strategic decisions on the basis of in-depth statistical analyses. And it must be admitted that this approach is not meaningless.
It is no coincidence that these systems have already made it possible to achieve very concrete algorithmic exploits; we can for example cite the incredible database of protein folding from AlphaFold which has already revolutionized the daily life of many researchers (see our article).
It is common knowledge that these neural network-based programs are extremely good when it comes to processing raw data; in short, they are able to make clear trends emerge from completely indigestible data that would make any human lose his head.
And you don’t have to look far to understand why this interests business leaders. These AI-based systems could do wonders to accompany some complicated decisions, especially when they depend on a multitude of factors with no obvious correlation. And there could be big potential profits at stake… for the privileged ones who will have access to it, in any case.
Lawmakers will have their work cut out for them
But on the other hand, we can also imagine a whole host of questions that refer to drifts that we will gladly qualify as dystopian. A few examples among others: could an entrepreneur hide behind a tool of this kind so as not to have to assume a massive layoff? Could a robot systematically slash the least efficient employees statistically, or even decide to replace them with machines capable of operating 24 hours a day?
Hard to say today; we are not there yet anyway, and the answer to these far-fetched questions will depend on a large number of factors. But even attaching too much importance to this ultimately rather anecdotal nomination, it is therefore appropriate to do not underestimate the significance of such decisions.
For policy makers, in any case, it will be essential to observe the direction that this trend will take in different markets. If lawmakers do not negotiate this shift carefully, the explosion of AI-based tools could shake the labor laws of some countries to their very foundations, with significant consequences for societies and their respective economies.