Are You Smarter Than a Squirrel?
I came down to breakfast the other morning and my wife had an exasperated look on her face. When I asked what was wrong, she said, “I just want to be as smart as a squirrel!”
We have multiple bird feeders in our yard, and she has purchased many devices to foil the squirrels’ ability to get to the feeders, but the squirrels always win! One morning I amused myself for an hour by using vegetable oil to grease the metal rods the bird feeders sit on and watching squirrels leap halfway up the pole and slide to the ground. Try it — it’s hilarious! (The oil eventually wears off and they get their prize.)
A question I’ve pondered lately is, “How smart will a CEO have to be to live in the world of artificial intelligence (AI)?” Heck, how smart will any of us have to be? IBM’s Watson is already able to solve complex problems, write poetry and outsmart squirrels. (OK, it’s still working on the squirrels. …)
My interest is much more curiosity than paranoia. After all, Captain Kirk occasionally outwitted Spock, and everything else on Star Trek has seemed to come true!
Although it’s hard to answer the question, “What will the relationship between machines and humans be in the future?” (assuming assimilation doesn’t take place!), it’s reasonable for every CEO to start asking, “How will AI affect my business model?”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or Watson) to understand that automation will continue to displace repetitive tasks, but what happens when AI performs nonrepetitive, creative thinking well?
If that makes your brain hurt, back it off a bit and ask, “What will my business environment look like in five years?”
The fact that you cannot predict the future with complete accuracy doesn’t mean you don’t have an obligation as a leader to ask the question and continue to struggle with the possibilities!
Do you think Spock would’ve found humor in the squirrel sliding down the greased post?
Todd coaches CEOs to higher levels of success. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000 people. Todd is the author of, Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing).