During an onstage discussion with Fortune CEO Alan Murray at the Fortune Global Forum in Abu Dhabi on Monday, Alexander Sukharevsky, senior partner and global leader of McKinsey-owned AI firm QuantumBlack, insisted that generative AI is far more than just the latest craze.
“We got it wrong many times with dotcom and crypto and few other things—but I truly believe it’s the first time in the last 15 years that we see a real platform shift,” he said. “A platform shift happens when the cost of production goes down 1000 times.”
‘No debate’ on job losses
While Sukharevsky acknowledged that such a huge ripple effect would undoubtedly change the way we work—and conceded that the vast majority of the tasks carried out by today’s workforce could easily be automated—Sukharevsky said the “devil is in the detail” when it comes to projecting what comes next in the modern workplace.
“Similar to what the internet did to distribution, generative AI does to creativity, meaning the marginal cost of producing a movie, a slide, a legal recommendation, goes close to zero at a significantly faster rate,” he said. “Seventy percent of employees’ tasks today could be automated,” he added, predicting that “in 20 years, 50% of them will be automated.”
But Sukharevsky, who has been with QuantumBlack since 2020 and co-authored a 17-page article for McKinsey titled What every CEO should know about generative AI, told Fortune’s Murray on Monday that leaders need to “go role by role” to understand the impact AI will have, rather than making broad generalizations about how the tech will disrupt their workforce.
“If you ask me, I don’t think there is a debate on how many human beings or jobs it’s going to eliminate,” he said. “I think if anything it’s going to augment what we have today.”
QuantumBlack, which employs 5,000 people across 50 countries, is a major player in the development of generative AI and…
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