Generative AI: Implications for Innovators

The Revolution is Here, But Will Enterprises No Longer Need Humans?

Investments in generative AI — tech that can generate new content, rather than simply acting on existing data — exceeded $2 billion in 2022, according to the Financial Times.
Clearly a revolutionary moment is upon us, but what will it mean for corporate innovation, creativity, and novel content? If AI is now able to perform tasks that traditionally only humans can perform, are we about to see the rise of self-sustaining, digital-only enterprises that do not need active human interaction?

That was the question asked in a January Forbes article that examined the adoption of AI in organizations to handle a variety of tasks, including marketing, customer service, sales, learning and client relationships. If AI can be employed to help improve conversion rates and drive more revenue, will that unleash human beings to engage in more creative, innovative pursuits?

Before we attempt to answer that question, it’s of merit to consider whether generative AI is being used in the process of innovation itself. A 2021 study published in the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change examines how AI reshapes companies and organizes innovation management. “Consistent with rapid technological development and the replacement of human organization, AI may indeed compel management to rethink a company’s entire innovation process,” the study said.

Relying on ideas from the Carnegie School and the behavioral theory of organizations, the study considered the implications for innovation management of AI technologies and machine learning-based AI systems. It concluded by outlining a framework showing the extent to which AI can replace humans (!) and explaining important considerations in making the transformation to the digital organization of innovation.

So what room does that leave for human innovation and creativity? Forbes suggests that the highest potential for autonomous enterprises exists in custom software management, content generation and management, marketing and customer experience, product design and development, and health care. Imagine if AI could speed of the process of developing new drugs and medical instruments, a process that, at present, involves multiple clinical trials and high costs.

Other areas where AI will be employed in health include discerning patterns in drug discovery, generating better models for cancer diagnostics, managing routine medical tasks such as wellness checks, and developing novel deep-learning algorithms for diagnostically challenging tasks. ChatGPT programs will perform functions that are difficult for humans. Will companies receive value in increased efficiency and innovation from these new technologies? Hard to tell at this time, but one thing is certain: the AI revolution is here, now.

Tripp Baltz
Head of Research