Since my first course in the Langone Program (Leadership in Organizations) there has been an undercurrent of discussion throughout the program related to Artificial Intelligence (AI). When I first joined the program in 2014 and was presented with the question of what impact AI and robotics would have on the world my thoughts fell to gimmicky (e.g. IBM Watson beating Ken Jennings on Jeopardy) and mostly impacting manufacturing jobs. As we reach the end of 2016 and I have had many thought provoking discussions at Stern on the topic, I now realize the world-changing future that is quickly coming upon us.
In a wide variety of my courses at Stern, my professors were farsighted enough to recognize the seismic shift that is coming and ask us questions to help us prepare to manage it in our careers and personal lives. Some of the discussion we had were the following:
- In my marketing coursework, we discussed the possibilities that AI brings in terms of personalizing the brand experience for each consumer and gathering, analyzing and acting on data in real-time to better provide the customer with value.
- In my more quantitative courses (e.g. operations, decision models, finance) we discussed the fact that much of the analysis and calculation is now, and should be, handled by machines that can do math and forecast much better than we can. If a computer can do calculations and then make decisions based upon it, what does that do to the stock market?
- In my managerial courses, we discussed the importance of using computers in decision making to help counter our own biases and make decisions more aligned with our desired criteria, such as in hiring. The not-too-distant future may very well be AI robots completely handling the recruiting process, including interviews.
- In my change management course we discussed how to manage the changes that are coming and deal with the impact on our companies, ourselves, and the people that depend upon us. With autonomous cars quickly becoming a reality, what does that mean for the automotive industry, the auto dealerships, the auto insurance industry, and others?
I am proud that Stern is looking to the future and am happy that my professors are making us think about these issues and possibilities as we go about learning more standard MBA subjects.