Given the advancements made in artificial intelligence (AI) so far, many are starting to wonder if they will soon lose their jobs to robots. The latest addition to the list of worriers are CEOs, as talks regarding them getting replaced by artificial intelligence CEOs have recently cropped up.

In fact, an article revealed that in the future, robots could take over at least 15 jobs. Robots, it said, could soon replace accountants, advertising salespeople, benefits managers, couriers and delivery people, customer service executives, data entry and bookkeeping clerks, doctors, market research analysts, proofreaders, receptionists, retail salespeople, security guards, soldiers, taxi and bus drivers, and telemarketers.

The same article said that robots couldn’t take the place of chief executives. But since then, many, most notably Alibaba’s CEO Jack Ma and Stephen Hawking, believe that conjecture no longer holds.

Why Tech Experts Think Robots Can Replace CEOs

When he spoke at an entrepreneurship conference in Zhengzhou, China, Ma said AI-powered systems could make more rational calculations and decisions than any human ever could. They could rely solely on data and do calculations and predictions faster than any human could.  And they won’t be swayed by emotions.

The traits above are the reasons why tech experts think CAIOs could make better CEOs. We discussed them in greater detail below.

Artificial Intelligence CEOs Make More Rational Decisions

We all know that C-suites are responsible for making mission-critical business decisions. But because they are human, they are less objective than robots. While today’s CEOs do make all the decisions, they can’t do so without looking at information that powerful AI systems collate, process, analyze, and interpret. In a sense, it would seem that the bulk of CEOs’ work is already being done by robots.

Chief AI officers (CAIO) proponents could thus argue that why not cut the middleman (a costly one at that, which we’ll tackle later on) out? Isn’t that a typical scenario in the supply chain? Instead of paying the middleman on top of the supplier, don’t businesses go straight to the supply source instead? Company boards could do the same thing, can’t they? Instead of relying on their CEOs, they can go straight to their sources of information—advanced AI systems capable of making accurate predictions and decisions based on data.

The tech proponents could also argue that CAIOs may even provide sounder, more accurate, and more objective directions to help the companies soar to greater heights. Computers won’t hesitate to make decisions based solely on data (not swayed by emotions or politics) if the organization’s only goal is to survive and thrive.

Artificial Intelligence CEOs Cost Less

CEOs are primarily responsible for making major corporate decisions, managing an organization’s overall operations and resources, acting as the liaison between the board of directors and employees, and serving as a company’s public face. They are elected by an enterprise’s board members and shareholders. And given that they are the highest-ranking corporate executives, they earn top dollar. The CEOs of Fortune 500 companies earn more than US$12.3 million a year.

Tech experts argue that replacing CEOs with what has been dubbed “chief AI officers (CAIOs)” (or artificial intelligence CEOs) could translate to better returns on investment (RoIs). Why pay CEOs that much when AI can do their job, maybe even better than they can?

We also know that CEOs don’t actually see to the day-to-day operations of their organizations. They delegate that responsibility to department heads and team managers. They provide guidance aligned with what the company owners want. That is precisely why they’re considered a communication bridge between the corporate board members and the employees. Again, what if they were taken out of the picture? Much like the board members in the scenario described earlier, department heads and team managers can get their guidance from CAIOs.

Instead of electing a CEO, can’t business owners choose to develop CAIOs instead?

On the Flipside

On the other side of the coin, detractors would argue that while CEOs have a lot to answer for to their company boards (who, of course, won’t be happy about declining revenues), they are also hired to motivate and mentor employees, manage conflicts, and other tasks that computers are not capable of.

It would be tough for robots to acquire leadership skills, much less use them. And can you imagine some of the most powerful men in the world genuinely taking advice and direction from robots?

Artificial intelligence CEOs or CAIOs may become a reality in the future. The question that remains is if they would replace CEOs. Will what Ma said come to fruition? That in 30 years, “the Time Magazine cover for the best CEO of the year very likely will be a robot. It remembers better than you, it counts faster than you, and it won’t be angry with competitors.” Only time will tell.

We’re Bound to See Artificial Intelligence CEOs.
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