AI Is Already An Inherent Part Of Our Daily Lives - Making The Cut With Jan Morgenthal, CDO M1
We spoke to Jan Morgenthal, Chief Digital Officer at M1 Limited, about how AI will continue to evolve and integrate into our daily lives.
Q: Let's start from the top, you talked about the rapid development and growth of AI, and of course, there's a growing concern that it could be a potential threat or potential impact on jobs. What do you think the future of work is going to be like? And will AI's development significantly reduce job opportunities for humans?
My take is clear; it will be for some time as technology emerges, and yes, the cycle is getting faster, that's for sure; that's clearly what we are seeing, especially over the last couple of months with generative AI.
But in the end, it will be a blended and augmented way of working for some time, meaning AI and human intelligence (HI) would work together.
Will it shape different job roles and different job categories? For sure that will definitely happen. But look, 15 years ago; nobody had an idea that there would be something like Facebook because that was just a social media for one college, one university in the U.S. Now it's a global phenomenon with two billion something, maybe even three billion users on it. And something similar will also happen with AI; it just becomes part of our life.
And that is what we saw already through the latest industrial revolution, what happened with the telephone, the radio, and TV, and that is now more on the soft side, more on the software.
What is AI? AI is software.
Again, it's actually just zeros and ones; in the end, it's just mathematics, but that is what now influences and impacts our daily lives.
Q: Let's talk about integrating AI. For example, BMW has integrated or used AI, as a value-ad, for their customers, processes, employees, and products. How about M1? How is M1 integrating AI into your organisation, and how are you bringing people on board with this?
M1 is all over it because we already use it in multiple facets. For example, just a few years ago, we had a team called BI reporting in my department, which is the digital office. Today it's actually the data team, and they have everything from data governance down to data science, data engineering, and data architecture. They also work a lot on AI, especially in data science analytics.
They do different analyses, they work on products, and so on. But that's just an organisational change. So we have again, like, new job profiles within M1 which five years ago were not there, but today they are there, and I suspect there will be even more different roles in the next five years.
That gives them more to view on the people side, which means long life learning or lifelong learning, depending on how you want to put it, that is just an inherent part of our life now, especially in our professional life. Something I'm doing today, a certain role might not be there anymore in five years or ten years, but definitely, it will be then a different role.
It's also a normal change, especially in such a technology-savvy industry like a telco. It's just the cycles are faster, happening much more quickly. That's what is happening, so you must be ready for change.
Q: We've talked extensively about the technological aspect of it and how you're getting that into your organisation. Let's talk about the people aspect of it. So what do you see? How difficult is integrating AI into the organisation from a people management perspective? Do people see it as a threat? Are people embracing it? What is the general feeling that you're getting?
In general, and significantly more and more within my department, my area is the digital office/IT department. People are more open and eager to understand and learn new technology.
Because it comes with the job scope and a job profile, which you have been choosing already a couple of years or decades, maybe even the goal, it's a little bit easier because you're already being trained to embrace new technology.
Learn whatever new software, if you're in software engineer, learning new programming languages, etc. In my department, the people were eager to embark on this journey to discover, get upskilled, get reskilled, etc.
It is interesting because some of them already made this journey, especially over the last two or three years. And I'm telling them that the next step is coming because now you need to learn about Generative AI and think about the next wave of what is coming. They're like, Wow, I thought I could rest and get more training on the job from what I just learned, but it's just going into the next learning phase again.
Q: We've talked a little bit about the technology aspect of it, the people aspect of it, but I think one essential aspect that has been a big part of the AI conversation, and I believe this is an aspect that is going, is the ethics that is not keeping up with the technology. For example, BMW is also very involved in the regulatory and ethical issues in working with AI. And, of course, even in Singapore, we have the AI Verify foundation, where companies and the government are thinking about how to create trustworthy AI. Where do we go with this? How are we going to get the ethics to catch up with it?
First of all, ethics are a super important topic and are the most crucial topic for AI. Because obviously, that is, in the best case, an autonomous intelligence system created. And obviously, you need to look into the guidelines given towards that system. But again, ethics can be very broad, so it starts already with very simple questions; for example, when I look at our chatbot or voice bot, do we tell our client that it's a chatbot, or do we give it a name and say, oh yeah, maybe the client will figure out if that is a chatbot or maybe that is a human being.
We have yet to make that a very conscious decision like, no, no, of course, we say, that is a bot; we don't want it because we don't want to trick anyone. We must have a very good customer relationship with our clients.
But it would be best to think about it, which is part of ethics. So just seeing part of the whole breadth of it, and it's huge.
Q: And, of course, I've asked a certain AI chatbot about taking over my job as a presenter. But you know what? The exciting thing is also the idea that we can coexist with it. It can help me with my job. But I can still be very proud of keeping my job in that sense of authenticity, connecting with the audience, the nuances, and the emotional connection. What about you? Is it possible for AI to take over what you're doing?
Coming back to that, AI can help me in terms of augmenting my job. It is already doing it by today; if I'm using specific office tools by today, there is already AI in it, which is already helping me and telling me immediately, for example, if there is a conflict in my calendar or something like this. Or remind me that you still need to answer your CEO or something.
Can it fully take over my job? Parts of it. Sure, it can.
But other parts, especially in terms of people management, in terms of showing empathy, the human connection. That is something that AI is still far away from, so in ten years, it could do that; we see that there is potential.
Q: How about rounding things up? Please tell us how you envision life in the future with AI.
AI is today already an inherent part of our daily lives. And it would even be in much more aspects of our lives. I'm looking more at my private life, for example, when I raised my little boy. There were so many times I wondered; why he was crying. I don't understand; I fed him, changed his diapers and so on. Could there be an AI which can analyse that cry? Is it a little bit more, I'm more hungry, or that cry is telling me I want to play, or that is actually I want to sleep, but I cannot because of whatever is going on with me, etc.?
For example, that's at least what I see in research development around this topic; scientists are already working on those topics. That is what I'm expecting more and more, so it's becoming even in parts of our life, which we cannot imagine today. It's just coming back to looking at the book by Mr George Orwell when he also wrote about when, back in the 50 & 60s, all the concepts were already about AI. Still, it was just a concept because the technology was not ready; we didn't have the computer to process it.
We couldn't store the data for it, but that is all there. So AI will be in every part of our lives.
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