15 years ago, he gave hundreds of speeches talking about technology and its impact on businesses but he was still not widely known then, so his insights and warnings were mostly left ignored. But today, when billionaire Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma talks, the world listens. And this time he's again warning about the future- that 30 years from now, employees could be reporting to their CEOs who are robots, and one of those robot CEOs may even be chosen to grace the cover of Time magazine.
Jack Ma said in a speech at a China Entrepreneur event on Monday that society could experience decades of pain due to the new technologies and internet disruption to different areas of the economy. As such, the billionaire called on governments to bring in education reform and prepare and outline how humans must learn to work with machines.
The Alibaba founder warned that in the next three decades, the world's pain might exceed happiness because by then we would be dealing with greater problems. Ma also warned that social conflicts could have a huge impact on all walks of life.
With his foresight, Ma has ensured that his company has invested in such areas as cloud computing and artificial intelligence as it also embarks on expansion into new sectors beyond e-commerce business. The business tycoon warned 15 years ago in hundreds of speeches about the impact of e-commerce and the internet on traditional businesses. Few people listened and believed him then.
Now that he is already regarded as one of the most influential in the business industry. especially in technology, Ma is issuing a warning again that any business not linked to the internet could suffer in the future. He also discussed the rise of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) and talked how this technology will be needed to process a large amount of data being generated today, something he said that a human brain can't do.
Ma stressed, however, that machines still should not replace what humans can do, but that the technology community should be directed to make machines do what humans cannot. The idea, Ma said, is to make the machine a "human partner", and not an opponent. He did admit, though, that AI could potentially lead people to live longer, and that there would fewer jobs around. Ma predicted that robots can even replace chief executives of companies.
The billionaire said that robots remember better, they can count faster than people do. Robots also do not have the capacity to get angry with competitors. As such, the almost perfect CEO robot can be land on the cover of TIME magazine as the best CEO of the year.
Unfortunately, Ma did not venture into predicting whether CEO robots would be more generous in giving salary increases and bonuses to employees or if they would be more stingy.