AI and the Future of Society

AI and the Future of Society


From workforce training to tackling bias, ethics and new regulations, technology leaders must find the delicate balance between embracing AI's benefits and addressing genuine concerns.


Leadership, communication and prioritisation have never been more important for technology leaders in the face of the IT industry’s latest poster child, Generative AI.


Fuelled by the introduction of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, and more latterly Microsoft’s CoPilot365, Generative AI is already on the way to becoming a $1.3 trillion industry


Technology vendors, system integrators and consultancies have since rushed to launch AI-infused services and marketing slogans, legislators have readied legislation, and human rights activities and cybercriminals have worked at opposing ends of the spectrum in investigating how these technologies can be utilised.


Will, then, AI be a force for good or evil in the future of society?


AI and the Future of Society: Meet the panellists

Moderated by HotTopics Editorial and Strategy Director Doug Drinkwater, the AI and the Future of Society panel includes the following speakers:


  • Stuart Birrell, Chief Data and Information Officer, EasyJet
  • Que Tran, Regional CIO and Head of IT Europe, DP World
  • Lauren Sager-Weinstein,  Chief Data Officer, TfL
  • Allan Cockriel, CIO and CISO, Shell
  • Gayle McFarlane, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland


Watch the roundtable highlights for AI and the Future of Society



Collective concerns around Generative AI

For many leaders, AI’s prominence is not to be feared - despite calls from the likes of Elon Musk and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to ‘slow-down’ AI development to mitigate the potential risks.


These technologies, built and trained on large language models (LLMs) to create text, images and other types of media, offer an opportunity to support the workforce, elevate the quality of work and create more business value


And yet, the same technology leaders acknowledge there are genuine concerns with Generative AI, from the possible creation of biased and unethical systems that ‘hallucinate’ or provide misinformation, through to wide-scale job replacement, all of which could be compounded by a long-standing human distrust of technology. 


“As humans, we like stability and consistency,” said Que Tran, regional CIO and head of IT for Europe at DPWorld, at The Studio. “With new emerging technologies, there’s a huge unknown, that causes us uncertainty - and to react in certain ways.”


“Is it a replacing technology; as in, it's going to replace my role, my job, my industry? Or is it an enabling or complementary technology?”


Stuart Birrell, Chief Data and Information Officer at EasyJet, believes it will be the latter, having seen similar frets about the introduction of the World Wide Web. 


“As humans, we're adaptable. We'll find ways to make it positive…It's about learning about it, and taking it on a positive journey - as opposed to being afraid and reacting to it.”


In this panel session, recorded live at The Studio at Abbey Road Studios in October, a rich combination of leading CIOs, Chief Data Officers, CISOs and legal professionals discuss why AI requires necessary caution, workforce training and engagement, a clear focus on ethics - and a need to keep up with a fast-moving regulatory environment.

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