Every discussion about artificial intelligence seems to alternate between utopia and dystopia. Some believe that the productivity unleashed through automation will lift up all of society, creating
In fact, in an
Yet that's easier said than done. Experienced leaders know that even small, subtle changes can sometimes result in a backlash. Preparing your organization to leverage artificial intelligence has can be especially problematic because the most profound problems are intensely human. Gandhi, although he was no tech enthusiast, can be a good guide on where to start.
Create A Vision For Tomorrow
Gandhi, by all accounts, was a brilliant tactician and strategist. However, he was also much more than a chess player who planned moves a few steps ahead of his adversaries. He had a clear vision of what the future should look like -- "Purna Swaraj" or complete independence from British rule. It was that clear vision that drove his actions and inspired people to follow him.
Martin Luther King Jr., who studied Gandhi closely and was in many ways his disciple, formulated his objectives in a similar way. He wasn't just fighting for the rights of black Americans, but to "make real the promises of democracy" and to "cash the checks" written into the founding documents of our union.
So the first step to building an AI future would be to form a clear vision of what it's supposed to look like. Should AI do our work for us so that we can have more time to seek personal fulfillment? Or is it supposed to augment our abilities so that we can become more productive in our work? Or maybe something else?
Listen to just about any AI evangelist today and you'll hear a different vision. Until we have a clear idea of the future we want, we are unlikely to make it happen.
Prepare The Ground
Gandhi cut his teeth as an activist in South Africa, where Indians were a relatively small minority. He was therefore able to build his principles step-by-step and indoctrinate his followers as he went. Yet when he returned to India, he made the mistake of trying to lead an entire nation of diverse attitudes and interests that was not yet indoctrinated in his
Gandhi would come to call this his
We already have a
Today we are already in the process of an AI transformation, with hundreds if not thousands of large-scale implementations. What values should govern these investments? We haven't even begun to work through the basic issues. Are we making a modern version of Gandhi's "Himalayan miscalculation?"
Create A Sense Of Shared Purpose Through A Transformational Project
When, on December 31st, 1929 the Indian National Congress declared self-rule by releasing
So the Mahatma returned to his ashram and emerged after weeks of meditation with an answer. He would
Yet it proved to be an inspired choice. The
Leaders would be wise to take
We've already seen how this approach can be applied in various contexts. Factory workers
Win Over The Losers
There is perhaps no greater testament to Gandhi than the high regard he was held in by his adversaries. The Boer leader
This was no accident. Gandhi took pains to reach out to those who opposed his goals and sought to form a common purpose, without ever losing sight of his objectives. He wasn't fighting to win for winning's sake, but saw his adversaries as partners in a quest for truths that transcended their positions and narrow interests.
The uncomfortable truth is that, as with any transformation, AI will create winners and losers and some accommodation must be found. Bill Gates
What is becoming clear is that as the technological barriers to an AI future fall away, the ones that remain will become more social in nature. It is those that we need to start turning our focus toward now.