Are you ready for an iBoss?

The new Boss might be embedded into a tablet. Credit: Harvard Business Review

Blue collars are feeling the heat of automation. As robots become more flexible and pervasive many jobs can be taken up by them, both physical robots and specialised software.

White collars jobs are also starting to be threatened by ever more sophisticated software and by process re-engineering that simply scrap the need for some jobs.

Now it is the turn of management jobs to feel the heat of progress.

Last year a Harvard team created the iCEO, a software that is able to take management decisions, embedded in a tablet... and way cheaper than a CEO.

iCEO actually was trialled to replace the work of a project manager, not of a CEO. It was tasked with the management of the work of 23 people spread around the world, including the preparation of reports to the client. It took care of Quality Assessment and of hiring staff.

Now Bridgwater Associates, one of the largest hedge fund management company, is looking into developing a software that can make management decisions including hiring, firing and strategic analyses.

The project was started at the request of Ray Dalio, one of its founder, who wants to be sure that the company can be "run" when he is not there to supervise it, and he wants to be sure that it is managed according to his vision.

It is run by the Systematized Intelligence Lab created in 2015 and led by David Ferrucci, who was previously at IBM leading the Watson supercomputer to beat humans at Jeopardy back in 2011.  The system is already providing tools to check employees performances and to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.

The goal is to have the software making 3/4 of the decisions the company will have to make by decade end. According to David it is an ambitious but achievable goal and it should lead to better decisions since the software will not be affected by stress or personal biases.

According to Harvard Business Review Artificial Intelligence will be able to replace most management decisions since these are based on data analyses and machines are better in this area, being able to harvest and examine many more data than a human being. So far it is understood that we will still need human "brains" to set the framework for decisions and steering the direction.

It remains to be seen how people will be willing to accept machine decision making, although we are already accepting them in many areas (probably without having the perception we are doing that... our car engine "decides" the appropriate mixture of air and gasoline depending on a variety of factors and it turns out to be much more accurate than, a pilot takes for granted the decision of the auto-pilot every single day....).

Author - Roberto Saracco

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