Preparing for the AI revolution in education, business and governance

The past year has seen significant shifts in AI capability. ChatGPT is among the vanguard. While businesses, educators and governments assess the impact and risks of such technologies, where we are now as we prepare for the next Industrial Revolution?

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This article is taken from the Autumn 2023 issue of

Think Global People magazine

Click on the cover to access the digital edition.
View your copy of the Autumn 2023 issue of Think Global People magazine.

AI and AI-enabled technology is not new and is all around us. From iPhone’s Siri, to our home Alexa systems, android apps and chatbots, this next-generation technology is learning from us, predicting and preparing us for our next moves in all aspects of our home and working lives.What is new are the big questions for leadership around how to balance the economic and wellbeing benefits with the significant risks of this new age. Economic modelling from McKinsey published in June suggested new generative AI could add trillions of dollars to the global economy. The sectors set to gain most are banking, life sciences and technology.Yet everyone can gain, not least with the ability to align customers and service providers closer than ever before, in what has been claimed as generative AI’s “breakout year”. To draw down the benefits, however, there are major questions around reskilling, business and personal leadership, including in education, and legislative frameworks on both a national and geographic regional level.

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Taking stock

Realising the benefits socially as well as economically is top of mind in this technological paradigm shift. The exponential growth in this new technology’s capability and potential is prompting leaders to take stock of the existential threats to businesses, education, people’s wellbeing and livelihoods the potential of generative AI and machine learning could unleash.So much so that 1,000 signatories representing tech expertise from Amazon, DeepMind, Google, Meta and Microsoft, as well as OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT, joined to call for a six-month halt on powerful AI system development. A further 350 chief executives and data scientists backed the Center for AI Safety, a non-profit organisation based in San Francisco, in saying, “Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war”.In moves that could safeguard both competitive advantage, as well as national and economic security, legislators globally are now assessing the impact of AI and planning next steps. In the UK’s case – one of three countries to have a trillion-dollar tech sector alongside the US and China – balancing the risks to cybersecurity, the proliferation of deep fakes and disinformation campaigns with the potential for economic growth is the focus is on how best to innovate and capitalise on this next Industrial Revolution through the government’s AI strategy and now a white paper on cybersecurity. “The UK has an opportunity over the next ten years to position itself as the best place to live and work with AI; with clear rules, applied ethical principles and a pro-innovation regulatory environment,” said a government statement.The outcome of this and other consultations globally will have significant impact on both the development of home-grown talent, and access to and attractiveness for globally mobile talent in the UK, just as elsewhere. The tech sector itself is already struggling to meet skills needs, underlining the importance of global mobility to keep pace with businesses’ needs. “Arguably more so than any other industry, tech as a sector is truly global,” comments Karoli Hindriks, co-founder and CEO of Jobbatical, a relocation and visa platform. “The very existence of technology is what’s broken down borders that once existed and has fast-tracked globalisation. Global recruitment has therefore naturally always been essential to the growth of the tech sector.”Figures from Jobbatical for the year to June 2023 reflect the international marketplace for AI talent. Around a third (29%) of global relocations in tech companies were for engineering roles, including software engineers, machine learning engineers, back-end engineers and developers, Cloud, Android, iOS and machine learning engineers. Significantly, a quarter of these relocations were at senior levels, including CEOs.

More mindful mobility?

This is not new to those of us in global mobility who have supported the moves of tech professionals at every level internationally for the past decade and more. What is new is how the global mobility supply chain can dovetail with clients and adopt AI in a way that both optimises cost and employee experience through forecasting and feedback; and that proactively addresses and identifies immediate and broader risks, including access to mobility opportunities.“AI, including chatbots and machine learning, will continue a recent trend of significant transformations for Global Mobility functions,” confirms Tom Richardson, VP of solutions consulting at Equus. “We have been using AI for some time in areas like virtual assistants and recommendation algorithms. But the recent rise in popularity of large-language models has increased awareness and the adoption of new ideas across a range of functions and expertise.”In relation to the risks associated with AI and machine learning, which include ensuring all-important compliance and diversity, equity and inclusion considerations that reflect an organisation’s culture and mission, Tom Richardson says, “It is vital for teams to understand their responsibility in addressing challenges associated with AI and machine learning roll-outs, especially concerning algorithmic bias – which may lead to exclusion and discrimination. Primarily, this means ensuring that you have robust company governance frameworks with clear policies, ethical guidelines, and regular audits to current agreed standards.”This vital focus on critical thinking and discernment is a reminder that AI and other technology are tools; not the answer on their own. “Transparency and ‘explainability’ in AI decision-making foster trust and accountability,” says Tom Richardson. These leadership qualities have been on the agenda for a while, reflecting the widening ESG focus. This is also something very much on the radar in international and higher education.

Quality questions hold the answers

As Relocate Global’s series of international education webinars and our wider focus on innovation this year attests, educators around the world understand the importance of equipping the next generation with the skills needed to thrive in the future tech-enabled global workforce. The introduction of and access to technology like ChatGPT is, by necessity, hastening the pace of change in approach.A recent Times Higher Education webinar, ‘Artificial Intelligence and Academic Integrity’ featured panellists Benjamin Liu (University of Auckland), Jenny Davis (Australian National University), Christine Slade (University of Queensland) and Daniel Zhengkui Wang of Singapore Institute of Technology. It unpacked how to balance new technology with academic integrity. Webinar chair, Dene Mullen, introduced the panel, saying: “Generative AI is already testing the limits of when we can call honest and independent academic work and we’re really only just getting started. This is the hottest topic in higher education right now.”Calling it a paradigm shift in teaching, panellists agreed that used in the correct framework, AI helps to personalise teaching and deepen knowledge. Students can use ChatGPT to ask simple questions, which frees up time for students and tutors alike to “deal with the big questions”. Asking quality questions, developing a critical mindset and using data towards achieving a particular goal are all skills readily transferable to the future workplace. ChatGPT and similar tools are also allowing for rapid translations and greater inclusion. It is opening classrooms and lecture halls up in new ways, bringing with it the ability potentially for greater cross-cultural understanding and knowledge sharing.Raising the level of expectation around what AI can deliver, especially as machine and natural language AI depends on the quality of questions asked of it, is also vital. AI in academia hinges on “helping staff and students to become ethically and AI literate”, as well as making it more substance- and personal development-focused, rather than simply outcome-oriented.This last point has a message for all of us. What outcomes do we as individuals, school and education communities, and business leaders want from AI? The answer is critical for balancing the risks with the rewards.

Explore more about AI's impact on global mobility in the Autumn issue of Think Global People magazine. Reserve your copy here.

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