IPMA International Project Management Association
8 September 2016 / 10:15

One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence – impacts on PM!?

I thought it might be interesting to draw your attention to a study launched in 2014. This study, called the One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI), is a series of periodic studies initiated by Eric Horvitz with focus on how AI will affect automation, national security, psychology, ethics, law, privacy, democracy and other issues. “Artificial intelligence is one of the most profound undertakings in science, and one that will affect every aspect of human life,” said Stanford President John Hennessy, who helped initiate the project. “Given’s Stanford’s pioneering role in AI and our interdisciplinary mindset, we feel obliged and qualified to host a conversation about how artificial intelligence will affect our children and our children’s children.”

The 2016 Report reveals interesting insights in how AI will change our world in future. What is AI? It might be defined as a science and a set of computational technologies that are inspired by the ways people use their nervous systems and bodies to sense, learn, reason, and take action. The study focuses on eight domains: transportation; service robots; healthcare; education; low-resource communities; public safety and security; employment and workplace; and entertainment. The experts involved try to predict our lives in 2030 and consider the likely influences of AI. Summing up the findings, the 2016 Report states the following: “Contrary to the more fantastic predictions for AI in the popular press, the Study Panel found no cause for concern that AI is an imminent threat to humankind. No machines with self-sustaining long-term goals and intent have been developed, nor are they likely to be developed in the near future. Instead, increasingly useful applications of AI, with potentially profound positive impacts on our society and  economy are likely to emerge between now and 2030, the period this report considers. At the same time, many of these developments will spur disruptions in how human labor is augmented or replaced by AI, creating new challenges for the economy and society more broadly.”

In regards to the focus area “employment and workplace” the 2016 Report states, that AI is on the one hand side poised to replace people in certain kinds of jobs, such as in the driving of taxis and trucks. On the other hand, AI will likely replace tasks rather than jobs in the near term, and will also create new kinds of jobs. Will AI replace a project manager? In my opinion the answer is a clear “No”. Some tasks of project management might be replaced by AI, e.g. analyzing data, planning and controlling projects, sharing information and supporting communication between stakeholders. However, human beings are needed in order to design a project, take decisions, lead other people to success, represent the project in public or towards clients and higher management levels. The human intuition, feelings, ideas, emotions and passion cannot be replaced by AI, thus a project manager will be needed in future. What is your opinion?

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.