In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, the introduction and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) often encounter a unique challenge when it comes to senior decision-makers. These individuals, in positions of great importance and authority, may not have had the opportunity to explore the latest AI advancements themselves. Consequently, AI discussions can remain abstract to them, lacking that pivotal "what is this?" moment necessary for understanding the implications of Large Language Models (LLMs) like GPT-4.
Give me one hour of your time and I'll change that!
While some may quickly embrace AI as a transformative force and get wrapped into the hype without the deeper understanding of its risks in the enterprise, others may approach it with pure skepticism. Nevertheless, the significance of LLMs to organisations, governments, and educational institutions cannot be overstated. Notably, this significance is not tied to the need for groundbreaking technology; rather, it revolves around the applications available through existing tools like Bing's implementation of GPT-4.
Unlocking the potential of LLMs often requires just under one hour of explanation to help senior leaders recognise the opportunities and risks they entail. However, the information environments typically accessible to these leaders do not emphasise the potential of LLMs to the extent that they feel compelled to explore them further.
At the upper echelons of organisations, senior leaders might not find LLMs as essential because the organisational hierarchy itself efficiently delivers the results that LLMs can provide. When a question arises, a response is readily available, whether it comes from a human or a technology. The value of the answer remains consistent for senior executives.
In contrast, for those level below, less senior, LLMs are game-changers when generating these answers. Their use significantly reduces the workload, as manual tasks and processes to derive answers become obsolete.
The critical point here is that LLMs empower the individuals who use them, providing leverage and efficiency that may not be for senior executives with their established support systems.
The popularity of LLMs arises from their ability to lower the barrier to entry for leveraging AI. However, this ease of use has also raised concerns, such as the potential for incorrect results and data security risks. As technology continues to evolve, it's likely that future innovations will offer the best of both worlds in terms of ease of use and trust.
One fundamental issue highlighted here is that the further removed someone is from LLM tasks, the less likely they are to explore their potential. As David Deutsch aptly puts it, it's ultimately an information and knowledge game. Executives rely on their workforce to acquire knowledge.
The integration of LLMs into senior leaders' workflows can enable more advanced starting points, simplifying the initial stages of problem-solving and offering higher-quality guidance. Experimenting with LLMs is perhaps the most effective way for senior leaders to comprehend the technology's implications for their organisations.
The reluctance of senior leaders to embrace AI echoes the skepticism surrounding the adoption of the internet in the late 1990s. Back then, individuals questioned the need for websites until they saw the potential applications and benefits. AI may follow a similar trajectory as more leaders recognise the opportunities it offers.
To facilitate understanding and acceptance, providing context and practical experiences is key. This can help bridge the knowledge gap and expedite the shift from "what is this" to "how can we leverage this technology to solve previously unattainable problems?" Establishing a safe use policy, governance, and data readiness should also be priorities in the journey to AI adoption.
While introducing AI to senior decision-makers may initially present challenges, effective strategies that provide context, practical experiences, and a focus on implications can accelerate their understanding and acceptance of the technology's potential.
Just as the internet transformed business in the late 1990s, AI is revolutionising how organisations operate, their revenue and profitability models, and so it is crucial that senior leaders stay suitability informed and open to its possibilities.
Copyright Clara Durodié, 2023