Emerging Technologies

Best gift to our kids? Ensuring their GenAI world is responsible and sustainable

Business and society are being shaped and reshaped by AI and GenAI as we speak.

Business and society are being shaped and reshaped by AI and GenAI as we speak. Image: WEF/iStockphoto

Didem Un Ates
Vice-President, Artificial Intelligence Strategy and Innovation, Schneider Electric
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  • Business and society are being shaped and reshaped by AI and GenAI as we speak.
  • 30% of hours worked today could be automated by 2030 – and a significant portion of this figure would be accelerated by generative AI.
  • As well as using AI responsibly and sustainably, it's essential to invest in talent development and workforce planning based on business demand.

According to a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute, 30% of hours worked today could be automated by 2030 – and a significant portion of this figure would be accelerated by generative AI.

As 2030 happens to be about the time my son is likely to graduate from university, this figure made me think a lot – especially since I have spent the last decade or so building and scaling AI solutions at Microsoft, Accenture and now at Schneider Electric.

Have you read?

What does this 30% figure mean? It really means that about one-third of my son’s “teammates” in his first job will be AI/GenAI-powered robots in some hardware or software form. And that’s almost regardless of which profession he chooses, according to the infographic below summarizing the McKinsey Global Institute study.

With GenAI added to the picture, 30% of hours worked today could be automated by 2030.

Based on another study by McKinsey Quantum Black, 60% of organizations with reported AI adoption are already using GenAI, and 28% say that GenAI use is already on their boards’ agenda.

We, at Schneider Electric, have been no exception. During my fourth week as VP, AI Strategy & Innovation at Schneider – a role I took on in June this year – I led a GenAI/AI scan covering 15 functions to identify our “as is” versus “to be” scenarios jointly with my roughly 200 peer leaders from these functions. After an intense few weeks and countless workshops, we assessed and determined the massive opportunity ahead of us.

In short, business and society are being shaped and reshaped by AI and GenAI as we speak.

Embrace and learn

Needless to say, I feel very responsible – not only for my teams, colleagues, friends and our families, but mostly for our children who will be living and working in this new hybrid world with AI/GenAI tools and assistants. In fact, I would argue they already are, given how rapidly AI/ GenAI tools like ChatGPT and Copilot are gaining prevalence in education.

While these technologies are having a massive positive impact in many sectors (for instance, let’s face it, we would still be in lockdown if data analysis and AI had not accelerated the development of COVID-19 vaccines), they certainly also pose many risks and challenges.

These are being discussed and debated on a daily basis in our ecosystem and in the media, so I’m not going to review them here. However, in this "Oppenheimer"-like context, what’s the best gift we could give to our children, who will have (and already to some extent already have) AI/GenAI teammates and Copilots in their lives?

I’d say it would be responsible and sustainable AI/GenAI, coupled with a well-thought-out and compassionately implemented talent transformation programme.

That’s why I am honoured and delighted to contribute to alliances such as the World Economic Forum AI Governance Alliance on Responsible Generative AI. The Presidio Recommendations on Responsible Generative AI are a great start for all public and private organizations, and for society as a whole, for adopting responsible AI practices.

We must ensure that we implement such recommendations with practicality and impact in our environments, internalizing and operationalizing them in our daily lives at work and at home – as I argued in this article, based on my work at Microsoft in the last few years. We started a responsible AI operationalization journey at Schneider Electric, with a strong focus on sustainable AI and on an AI/GenAI upskilling and reskilling programme.

AI’s impact on the environment and talent

As most in the sustainability and energy management industries would know, sustainable AI is currently in its early stages. However, as with most disruptive technologies, I am – cautiously – optimistic and hopeful. We need to be careful with the carbon footprint of AI, especially GenAI, and at Schneider Electric we tackle these challenges with a focus on a human in the loop or revising projects where the AI model consumes more energy that it can help save.

Regarding managing and preparing for the impact of AI/GenAI on talent, Gartner provides an excellent framework, which I recommend to all leaders who are considering how to deploy a compassionate, well thought-out and actionable workforce transformation plan within their organizations.

Talent impact matrix for GenAI and AI more broadly

It’s also important to build data and AI/GenAI training and upskilling plans by persona and with ample flexibility. According to Gratton and Scott’s book The 100-Year Life, we all will need to pivot and re-train multiple times during our careers as our average lifespan increases by about two years every decade. In other words, the life expectancy of my son’s generation will be about 108, taking them up to 2105 and beyond!

Discover

How is the World Economic Forum ensuring the responsible use of technology?

In summary, as we architect and build the job landscapes and ecosystems for our children, in addition to using AI responsibly and sustainably, it’s also essential to invest in talent development and workforce planning based on business demand and technology applications (e.g., GenAI/AI use cases). Within each organization, function or even team, multiple “boxes” in the talent impact matrix are likely to apply. In other words, some team members need to be hired for new breakthrough roles with high demand, and others may need to be trained for augmented skills – even in the same team.

Please reach out if you would like to join forces: let’s be Forum AI Governance Alliance fellows. Let’s share our know-how and best practices, and let’s enhance and complement our talent AI/GenAI training plans. And let’s do our collective best for our kids’ “graduation gift”.

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