Exploring AI Beyond the Hype: Reflections from the second edition of our workshop

I recently had the honor of co-organizing (together with my fellow colleague Domenico Di Prisco) and participating in the second edition of the workshop titled “Emerging Technology and AI: Beyond the Hype.” This initiative, launched by Prof. Lauren Waardenburg and my supervisor, Cristina Alaimo, aims to foster a deeper understanding of AI, cut through the surrounding hype, and explore its broader implications for management, society, and institutions.

First workshop “Emerging Technology and AI: Beyond the Hype” at LUISS in 2023:

Source: Author

After the inaugural workshop at the LUISS campus in 2023, this second edition was held at the ESSEC campus in Paris. The event brought together experts from various disciplines, including information studies, organization and management theory, marketing, and even sociologists. They were all focused on studying the intricate impacts of AI on organizations and society and how these entities, in turn, shape AI.

2nd workshop edition in ESSEC Paris in May 2024:

Source: Author

Over the course of two days, the workshop featured a series of insightful keynote speeches. The introductory keynote was delivered by Professor Jan Recker, who set the tone with his thought-provoking topic “Responsible AI = Sustainable AI?” He challenged the assumption that responsible AI is inherently sustainable, suggesting that we need to approach these concepts differently to ensure both responsibility and sustainability in AI development.

Following this, Prof. Elena Esposito delivered a compelling keynote on the transformative power of AI in making predictions actionable. She illustrated how, unlike traditional predictions like weather forecasts that merely prepare us for the future, AI enables proactive interventions to alter the predicted outcomes. This represents a significant shift in the role of predictions, akin to changing the weather itself rather than just dressing appropriately for it.

The second day of the workshop continued with equally engaging keynotes. Prof. Harris Kyriakou discussed the “Implications of AI for Research & Practice,” offering valuable insights into how AI is reshaping both academic research and practical applications. Prof. Melissa Valentine from Stanford University captivated the audience (making us solve math equations!) with her ethnographic study of an online clothing retailer. She demonstrated how introducing an algorithm transformed the organizational structure, with data science approaches to buying and planning redefining existing departmental boundaries.

These keynote speeches, followed by dynamic roundtables and project presentations, provided me with a lot of answers about AI, but it also left me with some new questions (which, I think, is a good thing?):

  • We still don’t truly know what falls under the category of AI. While many consider it an emerging technology, some argue that parts of it have reached the level of a general-purpose technology. As various fields navigate the creation and adoption of digital and advanced technologies, it’s uncertain whether we will have a clear answer to this question even next year.
  • This uncertainty leads to broader questions about our common understanding. Do we mean the same things when we talk about AI, sustainability, responsibility, accountability, and the role of data in addressing problems and finding solutions? How does this ambiguity impact our research? Are we experiencing an epistemological crisis due to the lack of clear definitions and shared understanding?
  • This also raised important questions about AI and sustainability. While AI is often touted as a contributor to sustainable solutions and development, it’s essential to consider the substantial resources these processes consume. Although AI can indeed foster sustainable outcomes, the experimentation process itself, even when shifted from physical to digital realms, still consumes a significant amount of resources. How, then, do we address this issue effectively?
  • As AI continues to become smarter and more autonomous, questions about accountability arise. Who is responsible for the good and bad decisions we outsource to AI? What decisions can we ethically and effectively delegate to non-human entities, and which should remain under human control? This issue is particularly pertinent in the use of AI for human resources, such as in the hiring process.

This workshop was and will continue to be an incredible opportunity to delve into these questions, fostering a deeper understanding of AI’s role and potential in society.

Looking forward to next year!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *