‘Triple Bottom Line: Disrupter or Destroyer – what impact will AI have on Business and the Economy?’ post-event reflection

17th November 2023

We hosted a brilliant seminar at our office this week about a subject on the mind of every business and entrepreneur we speak to: Artificial Intelligence (AI). It was especially timely in light of the AI Safety Summit, which the UK Government hosted a couple of weeks ago.

It was the first in our new series of seminars, ‘Triple Bottom Line: People, Planet and Profit.’

The panellists debated whether AI was more ‘Disruptor or Destroyer.’  Our all-star line-up was as follows:

  • Katie Prescott, Technology Business Editor, The Times.
  • Piers Linney, Co-founder, Implement AI and former Dragons’ Den investor.
  • Alex Krasodomski, Senior Research Associate, Digital Society Initiative at Chatham House.
  • Sam Sharps, Executive Director, The Tony Blair Institute.

At the heart of the debate was the understanding that AI presents both enormous opportunities and risks for businesses and humanity. With the right guardrails in place, AI is very much a tool to enhance our lives.

Five key points arising from the discussion were as follows:

  1. AI is developing at breakneck pace and is multiplying exponentially. Most people think of growth in a linear way, but AI is developing much faster than that. However, this is not totally new technology. AI has been around for years and has been used in wide variety of applications. Rather than thinking of AI’s impact as a big bang moment, the reality is change will be much more organic. One speaker gave the analogy of the switch to driverless vehicles. It seems obvious that we won’t jump straight from driving our own vehicles to falling asleep in the back of an automated car, and neither should we expect to go from running our own businesses to handing them over completely to AI.
  2. Most CEOs are talking about and thinking about AI. But businesses must use AI in a skilful way. There are many AI products already out there, but only a small proportion are being used by business and the public. If they adopt AI too quickly and without careful checks, it could backfire on them and damage their operations and reputation. On the other hand, AI tools can help businesses stay ahead of their competitors by reducing workload or augmenting skillsets. First mover advantage is important, but it’s about finding the right tools for you and your business.
  3. AI will have a dramatic effect on the labour market. It will impact many sectors, including professional services, the creative industries and many more. Even coding will be affected – AI will, in many cases, be able to code better than coders. However, it’s important to remember that these changes do not have to mean job losses. AI should be seen as a tool to aid development rather than a competitor. Investing resources into equipping employees with the skills to utilise AI will undoubtedly be beneficial.
  4. The UK’s AI Safety Summit was a success, bringing together many of the leading figures in AI and establishing a forum that will be increasingly useful when it comes to galvanising policy and regulation around AI. You can’t have a credible conversation about global technology without key players, and it was imperative that China was at the table.
  5. We can’t expect perfection from AI models, but we must also work hard to remove bias in the data sets they draw from. AI analyses data on a much greater scale and to a much greater degree of accuracy than humans ever could but it is not a perfect solution. The data sets AI draws from are often not totally representative of reality. In some cases, certain communities or languages are excluded from data sets leading to biased AI outputs. Clearly this is not an issue isolated to AI; human bias is a challenge many businesses work incredibly hard to overcome and the reality is that AI is in fact much less biased than people.

As we look ahead, it’s clear that AI will have a significant impact on the future of work. Adapting your business to technological changes has always been key but when it comes to AI, it’s more important than ever. If you are keen to learn more about AI and how you can incorporate it into your business here are some resources suggested by our panellists:

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