IoD and Keizai Doyukai discuss impact of AI on business practices

Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) and the IoD Japan Business Group organised a roundtable discussion to discuss the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on business practices. Delegates shared their insights on the transformative influence of AI across various sectors, including healthcare, energy, smart cities, finance, and the environment.

Opening the discussion, Dr Indranil Nath, Fellow and Chair of the Japan Business Group, said, “The impact of AI can already be felt in many areas of our lives, and it has raised several questions about the responsible, safe and beneficial use of the transformational power of AI. Business, regulators, and the risk functions are rushing to keep pace.”

“We are at a pivotal moment where Gen AI is vastly disruptive for society and industry.  Both the UK and Japan are uniquely positioned to navigate the opportunities and challenges in Gen AI as world leaders in technology and innovation.”
Andrew Lambert
Fellow and Chair of the IoD International Trade Group

Delegates emphasised the need for responsible and safe use of AI technologies, considering their profound impact on societal structures and interactions. The discussion delved into the challenges of Gen AI and the imperative for regulators and stakeholders to adapt swiftly to its evolving dynamics.

The meeting discussed the different approaches of the EU, UK, and Japan in ensuring AI technologies’ safe, transparent, and accountable deployment: comparing the EU’s risk-based legislation approach with the UK’s lighter, pro-innovation framework and Japan’s swift response to Gen AI, including government initiatives and international collaborations. Mr Osamu Mogi, Chair of the Globalization Promotion Committee of Keizai Doyukai, responsible for the UK and Germany, said that although there was widescale awareness of Gen AI in Japan, the use of technology in business had yet to begin.

Case studies were presented on how AI is used by the UK and Japanese governments and industries. These showcased how AI can improve productivity and support decision-making processes in a variety of sectors.

It was noted that the Japanese government made changes in Article 30-4 of the copyright law to encourage AI learning using data analytical methods from copyrighted materials, which has positively impacted innovation. Case studies of Japanese companies, such as, Hitachi, Mitsui Chemical, and Casio, demonstrated how they use Gen AI for legal consultations, infrastructure simulation, data analysis, and design optimisation. The first international framework to address advanced AI systems such as Gen AI was agreed by the G7 nations, a comprehensive policy framework for the Hiroshima AI process expanding support for international codes of conduct for business and other entities and introducing monitoring tools to ensure its implementation.

Mr Faisal Khan, Chair of the IoD Science, Innovation and Technology Expert Advisory Group, talked about a collaborative project with the London Business School. The project aims to understand how Gen AI is used in different sectors. Mr Khan shared early findings from the project that suggest that Gen AI can act as a co-thinker for senior managers, helping to improve the decision-making process.

The delegates discussed the presentation provided by Pauline Norstrom, a Fellow of the IoD and a member of the Science, Innovation and Technology Expert Advisory Group where she explained a few remarkable examples of AI implementation from the UK. These included the Gov.UK Chat, Benevolent AI in drug discovery and Deloitte’s Gen AI chatbot to boost productivity in all aspects of consulting life from writing emails and code to creating power point presentations.

Benevolent AI is an innovative British company with more than a decade of experience that uses Gen AI to help drug discovery in the pharmaceutical sector. It is one of the early adopters of Large Language Models (LLMs), an AI program that recognises and generates text, among other tasks. By analysing vast amounts of biomedical research data, Benevolent AI provides valuable insights and has secured significant investments, demonstrating the potential of Gen AI in the pharmaceutical sector.

Deloitte’s introduction of a Gen AI chatbot called the PairD Platform represents the integration of AI into professional services, especially management consulting. This initiative reflects a broader trend in the industry towards AI-driven solutions to enhance productivity and support decision-making processes.

The panel also discussed the Gen AI framework developed by the Central Digital and Data Office for the HM Government. Pauline Norstrom said that the government was taking very cautious first steps and moving the needle in the right direction. The regulation and maturity of the guardrail are still evolving. There are limited matured use cases currently where Gen AI is used. Companies like Palantir, Faculty, Microsoft, and IBM provide a platform to enable the user to access LLMs, where it could be argued that the greater risk sits with the technology provider, and in the EU, under the new AI Act together with the adjacent AI Liability Directive. It will potentially make the technology provider and entire value chain liable if they harm the user, additionally enabling a clear pathway to redress for an individual.

The participants concluded the discussion with optimism regarding the potential of Gen AI to enhance individual livelihoods and deliver substantial benefits to society. Despite the ethical and security challenges inherent in AI evolution, there is a consensus on its transformative possibilities. The participants called for responsible collaboration, innovation, and ethical considerations in navigating the evolving landscape of Gen AI. They encouraged stakeholders to embrace Gen AI’s transformative potential for a prosperous and equitable future.

Authors: Dr Yildiz Kara, Ambassador (Research) and Dr Indranil Nath, Chair of IoD Japan Group and the volunteering team.

The roundtable took place on 13th February 2024 in London. All statements herein are personal views and do not represent any company, Keizai Doyukai, or the Institute of Directors.

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