Salesforce's Benioff, IBM's Rometty Weigh The Responsibility Of Nurturing AI And How It Will Change The Workforce

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The purpose of the technology, however, is "to augment, and not replace, man," she said. "It will be man and machine in everything. We have to prepare the world for that. It's not a small thing."

While there's a lot of fearmongering around AI, new technologies have changed the nature of the workforce in all eras.

"Some jobs go away; new ones come," she said.

Benioff noted that Rometty, as IBM's CEO, has thought through the thorny issues around the technology, especially as far as it impacts people's jobs, possibly more than anyone else.

"I don’t think there's any company doing more for workforce development than IBM," he said.

In a world that is starting to see "taxis without drivers, farms without farmers, airplanes without pilots," Benioff said, issues around workforce transformation are paramount.

And as businesses transform, the question, Rometty observed, becomes, "if everybody's digital, then who wins?"

The answer is in the data—primarily who can most-effectively leverage that resource. All companies have lots of data, most don’t use it well, Rometty said.

She noted that only 20 percent of the world's data is searchable. The other 80 percent belongs to the customer, and has lots of value to those who know how to access it.

For companies that figure that out, "you will make better decisions. You will be a learning organization."

The potential of leveraging data stores means there's a possibility that the current era will see a market that favors longstanding businesses.

"If you have a past, it just might be your advantage now," Rometty said.

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