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Empowering Leaders: How AI Can Enable Better Decision-Making and Success

iStock 1286605947 - Global Banking | Finance

028 - Global Banking | FinanceBy Richard Boyd, Founder and CEO of artificial intelligence and machine learning company Tanjo Inc

As if straight from science fiction, Artificial Intelligence, perhaps the buzzword of the 21st century, has become, for many, simply this nebulous catch-all idea of computers magically making things work on their own. As a society, we’re slowly but surely overcoming our Stanley Kubrick-esque fears of AI, and come to trust and even rely on it to handle some of the biggest data-centric and information-heavy challenges that were once left up to intuition and guesstimation.

From product inventory at scale to civil engineering, global health crises to sports scouting, we have acknowledged the limitations of the human mind when it comes to digesting voluminous data points. But in the mainstream notion of AI, its utility is still largely siloed in our perception within what we consider data-dependent challenges – how much product to order, when is the optimal time to begin the commute, whether or not to refinance, and the like. Because of this, we are overlooking a larger and more intangible component of society that at its heart is also being revolutionized by AI: leadership.

Since the dawn of civilization, leadership has been the key differentiator between success and failure–of nations at war, of corporations, of government, and of innovation, and innumerable other verticals. As a society, we are constantly bombarded with quotes and dictums about effective leadership and its virtues. But the challenge in quantifying good leadership is the perceived intangibility and elusiveness of what constitutes it. We place leaders of yore on a pedestal and try to retroactively extrapolate their traits and clumsily shoehorn them into modern contexts. But the challenge that we face is that, as they say, history books are written by the victors, so it’s hard to say whether the actions and analysis of George Washington, Nelson Mandela, Julius Caesar, Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln would apply equally well in this accelerating complex information age environment.

Enter data, and modeling. In the human experience, leadership has been reliant largely on intuition. Certainly people can develop better intuition through experiential learning, and by being a student of their vertical, so it is no coincidence that the aforementioned leaders were successful, to a degree. But to AI, each person, each situation and each variable is a data point that is ready to be analyzed. So, by strategically integrating machine learning and artificial intelligence, it is instantaneously revolutionizing leadership within some of the most prominent and important areas of society – namely defense, healthcare, education, and human resources – ultimately leading to better outcomes for a better world.

Take the following scenarios for example:

  • An Army sergeant is given a squadron of soldiers with the goal of leading them through basic training, dividing them into the duties that suit them, and deploying to an overseas base for a specific mission. How does the sergeant see the gaps in readiness against that mission and address them for each soldier?
  • A teacher has a classroom full of different students with different needs, skill levels, home situations, levels of confidence, and dietary and health stipulations, and they must all pass the same standardized test in order to keep the school funded
  • The CEO of a large corporation has thousands of employees, each of whom has social and emotional needs, growth trajectories, health factors, and skills, and the company must attract and retain the right individuals to be profitable while remaining a desirable place to work
  • A Police Chief taking over a stressed precinct plagued by social unrest must recruit and train to achieve a culture that respects citizen rights but must also enforce order.

In all of these cases, the leader’s success, and the success of the team and the initiative, is measured by the final outcome. But this “success” all hinges on the leader’s ability to intuitively shuffle the right people into the right roles, and to provide the right type of direction, incentives, and supervision. In some cases they must even detect and prevent health, social, or emotional issues to protect the individuals and the health and morale of the group. Having an AI system reveal the gaps across every dimension associated with successful outcomes provides actionable leadership guidance. Leaders often have access to hundreds of snippets of information that can lead to conclusions about the needs of each person, but the volume of this information is nearly impossible for the leader to comprehensively act on.. Although leaders have certainly succeeded in these exact scenarios for centuries, failure is always a major risk, especially as other mitigating factors, such as budget, timeline, or public health crises, begin to close in. AI gap analysis paired with recommended actions makes this complex analysis more actionable

This is the ideal scenario for modern day leadership through Artificial Intelligence. In each of these scenarios, AI modeling can be used to do two things: capture and quantify these multi-dimensional data points for each individual in the scenario, and run simulations of these scenarios to help determine which combination of factors and decisions leads to the best outcome. An AI simulation is a lot like the popular video game series The Sims. With a Digital Twin model of their personnel, leaders can first adjust and tweak decisions and processes in a virtual environment to see how they affect individuals. Through this process, the leader is also able to learn to recognize and deal with a variety of real-life situations, effectively becoming an expert in how to apply rules and mitigations to achieve better outcomes and processes in each situation they may face.

The ultimate goal in all of these situations is to use AI insight to help leaders in all industries avoid the “podium moment,” in which they must justify failure with no other excuse than “I used my best judgment, I guess I was wrong.” With the help of AI, while questions can still be based on the algorithms and rules underlying the modeling, each decision can be made using data rather than just the best guess of some expert. This may appear to be a long-term goal, but it is already being used by a number of well-known organizations, including a major insurance company, the State of Washington, Army Intelligence, and the University of Arizona Sierra Vista, among others.

The data is readily available and massive, but humans alone are incapable of processing it adequately. As a society, making the best use of the information at our disposal is critical to achieving the best results. Artificial intelligence holds the key to effective leadership, and as we look to the future, we must not only embrace it, but also demand it.

About Author:

Richard Boyd is a tech entrepreneur and expert on ai, machine learning, virtual worlds, computer gaming and human/computer interfaces. The Founder and CEO of artificial intelligence and machine learning company Tanjo Inc., and the co-founder and CEO of Ultisim Inc., a simulation learning company that utilizes gaming technology and AI.

Richard and his team work with a wide variety of industries including energy, healthcare, defense, education and motion pictures.

He has been instrumental in creating several pioneering computer gaming companies including Red Storm Entertainment with author Tom Clancy; iRock Entertainment with Ozzy Osbourne; and Timeline Computer Entertainment with author Michael Crichton. Richard used his expertise in 3D simulation and animation to help movie directors James Cameron, Brian dePalma, Peter Weir and Sydney Pollack.

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