Posted on March 25, 2019 by staff

CEO: AI as big a problem as climate change


If we don’t move fast to prepare for a future dominated by artificial intelligence it will be too late.

That is the view of CEO Charles Towers-Clark, who has implemented strategies at Internet of Things company Pod Group to prepare staff for the transition.

Towers-Clark, who is a regular contributor to Forbes online, believes we should have concerns over the rate that AI will replace humans in job roles and how certain types of employees could be at risk.

He recently released his book ‘The WEIRD CEO: How to lead in a world dominated by Artificial Intelligence’, in which he describes the ‘Wisdom, Emotional Intelligence, Initiative, Responsibility and Development’ believed to be needed to survive in an AI-led world.

“We have as big a problem with AI as we do climate change,” he told BusinessCloud. “If we had dealt with climate change five to 10 years ago, we wouldn’t be at the point we’re at now.

“AI is like a hammer: you can take it and use it for good and make something, or you can take it and hit somebody over the head.

“We need to deal with the implications of AI now because otherwise it’s going to be too late to solve it.

“We will potentially have a problem where you have a few people who own the AI technology and creating things extremely efficiently, but then have a large part of society which won’t have a role – they won’t have a meaning.

“It has been said that we will create 133 million jobs and we will lose 75 million jobs to AI. But when will we lose those jobs compared to when we will create new ones, and what jobs are we creating?”

He explained how drivers could be at risk as autonomous vehicles increase, but job roles such as carers could be safe due to the “dexterity required to do all the things a care worker has to do to look after somebody”.

Towers-Clark founded Pod Group in 1999 with the idea of creating a flexible culture for staff and allowing them to take responsibility over their work.

Now employing 40 people, staff choose their own working hours and can take as much holiday as they need. New starters even choose their own salary on induction.

“If you come from the mentality that most people want to do a good job, the thing is to try and find a way to allow them to do that,” he explained.

“The way to allow them to do that is to give them the flexibility to be able to handle the parts of their life that they want to handle.

“The whole point of this is to change the way that people think – it’s not the tools, it’s to get people to think and take responsibility.”

Towers-Clark says people need to change their mindsets over the tasks they do and not get hung up over their job title, which could disappear in years to come. He says his main priority is to keep his staff happy.

The company has six offices globally including bases in Cambridge, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Mexico.