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IF Insights: Can artificial intelligence challenge CEO-level jobs as well?

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If you think that artificial intelligence and robotics won't come in handy at the leadership level, then you are wrong.

On March 2023, Microsoft-backed OpenAI launched its latest product, GPT-4, which will further power the ChatGPT and Microsoft Bing, the search engine using the tech.

GPT-4, dubbed as bigger, faster, and more accurate than its predecessor ChatGPT, can use both images and texts to generate suitable results for activities like long-form content creation, document search and analysis, and extended conversations.

A Twitter user named Rowan Cheung reportedly asked GPT-4 to name 20 jobs where the chatbot will replace the human workforce and the designations listed by the artificial intelligence product are Data Entry Clerk, Customer service Representative, Proof-reader, Paralegal, Bookkeeper, Translator, Copywriter, Market Research Analyst, Social Media Manager, Appointment Scheduler, Telemarketer, Virtual Assistant, Transcriptionist, News Reporter, Travel Agent, Tutor, Technical Support Analyst, Email Marketer, Content Moderator, and Recruiter.

And if you think that artificial intelligence and robotics won’t come in handy at the leadership level, then you are wrong.

Meet Ms. Tang Yu

A Hong Kong-based gaming company, NetDragon Websoft, reportedly appointed an artificial intelligence bot, named Tang Yu, as its new CEO. The move resulted in the company outperforming the entire Hong Kong stock market.

Ms. Tang Yu (it’s a female artificial intelligence bot), has been reviewing high-level analytics, apart from making leadership decisions, assessing business risks, and fostering an efficient workplace, on a 24*7 basis without a salary.

“Tang Yu’s appointment highlights the Company’s “artificial intelligence + management” strategy and represents a major milestone of the Company towards being a “Metaverse organization”. Tang Yu will streamline process flow, enhance the quality of work tasks, and improve the speed of execution. Tang Yu will also serve as a real-time data hub and analytical tool to support rational decision-making in daily operations, as well as to enable a more effective risk management system,” NetDragon Websoft remarked.

NetDragon’s shares have not only increased by 10%, but also compared to their net worth around September 2022. Its current market capitalization stands at approximately HKUSD 9 billion or USD 1.1 billion.

Similar moves may make sense in near future

Talking about business CEOs, these chief executives earn an average yearly salary of around USD 16 million, nearly over 400 times the packages earned by average employees, said a data from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

As per reports from The Hustle, Amazon CEO Andrew Jassy’s 2021 salary capped out at a massive USD 213 million, which amounted to the collective earnings of 6,474 average Amazon employees. Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav earned a yearly package of USD 247 million in 2021, only to be named the “worst CEO of 2022”.

Artificial intelligence and robotics have so far challenged professionals in the blue-collar field and now more sophisticated job descriptions. However, Ms. Tang Yu’s success now shifts the focus point to the business leadership level.

Since the late 1970s, the average CEO pay scale has gone up by 1,460%, compared to the workers (only 18%).

A study from corporate-governance research firm MSCI, covering the CEO performances of some 400 businesses between 2006 and 2015, found “a significant misalignment between CEO pay and stock-price performances”.

You have examples of Hilton Worldwide CEO Chris Nassetta earning a salary of USD 55.9 million amid reported losses of USD 720 million and record-high vacancy rates at the company.

Boeing CEO David Calhoun recently hit the headlines for receiving a pay package of USD 21.1 million despite plans to lay off 30,000 workers, issues with the 737 Max jet, and last but not the least, a loss of USD 12 billion. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerburg and his Google counterpart Sundar Pichai have earned wrath for laying off some of their hard-working and performance-oriented employees en masse, in order to compensate for the companies’ revenue slowdowns (resulted partly due to bad business moves) in the market.

In 2022, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) came up with a report analysing the likelihood of automation affecting jobs, and the CEOs were seen last in that priority order.

A 2017 study from McKinsey has estimated that 25% of a CEO’s time is spent on tasks which could be potentially replicated by artificial intelligence and robotics, functions like reviewing a company’s financial performances, sending emails and forecasting market trends.

Another study from the same company cited some 72% of CEOs admitting to making bad decisions as frequently as taking correct business calls. At the average S&P 500 company, such poor decision-making leads to average yearly losses of USD 250 million.

Conclusion

While the job of a CEO is a taxing one, companies don’t prefer taking too many bad business calls at once, because a loss, even if it is that of USD 1, is still a loss. The success of Ms. Tang Yu, in future, may give the companies an option to outsource the CEO duties to a cost-effective tech solution, in order to save money and ensure a steady profit flow.

However, to reach this scenario, the only pre-requisite will be artificial intelligence and robotics achieving a never-seen-before perfection level, in terms of matching human intelligence (or even outpacing it, just like the ‘Skynet’ from the ‘Terminator’ franchise).

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