AI in the boardroom: Why it could change the way companies make decisions

Abu Dhabi's IHC has appointed Aiden Insight – an AI-powered observer – to its board of directors

AI can give the board more informed and evidence-based options to consider in making their decisions. Getty Images
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Having an artificial intelligence-based adviser as part of a company's board can have a far-reaching impact on its decision-making, including the ability to see past office politics, experts have said.

Abu Dhabi's International Holding Company, one of the UAE's most valuable listed companies, on Monday announced it will have an AI observer on its board that will help with its decision-making process.

Aiden Insight, developed by G42 in collaboration with Microsoft, will provide the board with advanced data analytics with “insights and risk assessments”, IHC said in a statement.

Using the world’s largest AI supercomputer, Aiden will process and analyse decades of business data, financial information, market trends and global economic indicators.

Aiden will also provide risk assessment, strategic planning support, innovation tracking, and ethical and compliance monitoring.

At board meetings, IHC said Aiden will attend as a non-voting observer, offering real-time insights to inform discussions and guide decisions.

IHC chief executive, Syed Basar Shueb, said the "initiative reflects our dedication to embracing cutting-edge technology and innovation, ensuring that IHC remains a leader in strategic investment and corporate responsibility".

Nancy Gleason, professor of practice in political science at NYU Abu Dhabi, said the decision was an "innovative step in the right direction to embracing generative AI".

"Aiden Insight can provide a valuable brainstorming position for counterarguments that are neutral to office politics," Ms Gleason said.

"Asking an AI to tell you what reasons might exist for not taking a decision is extremely valuable.

"Secondly, AI can process and analyse and make meaning from vast amounts of data quickly. This gives the board more informed and evidence-based options to consider in making their decisions."

Ms Gleason said IHC's decision shows it views generative AI as an important part of its business.

"If you want your employees to take advantage of efficiencies offered by generative AI, then it is important for leadership to do the same," she said.

"AIs such as Aiden Insight can offer data-driven decision options that humans might miss. AI can better predict potential risks and outcomes of various decisions by analysing historical and real-time data."

Sam Blatteis, co-founder and chief executive of The MENA Catalysts, who spent years driving AI policy in the GCC countries at Google, said there are numerous benefits for corporations that use AI.

"The prize is significant. AI can make sense of non-linear trends. If used productively, it gives corporate governance leaders X-ray vision on multiple levels," he said.

Defining role

G42 unveiled its AI supercomputer, the Condor Galaxy, in July, which it said would help to address challenges in health care, energy and climate action. Condor Galaxy is a network of nine interconnected supercomputers that promises to significantly reduce AI model training time.

Supercomputers are far more powerful than general-purpose computers and are typically used to address the most demanding problems in the world, including the development of medicines, the exploration of oil and gas reserves and weather forecasts, among others.

'We should be optimistic about AI,' Google tells The National at Davos 2024

'We should be optimistic about AI,' Google tells The National at Davos 2024

The use of AI is growing exponentially, particularly in work, education and online searches.

Speaking at the 2024 World Governments Summit in Dubai, OpenAI technology chief executive Sam Altman said AI would have a similar life-changing impact to mobile phones.

“The current technology we have is like that very first cell phone with the black and white screen that could only display numbers,” he said.

“It just didn't do much but there was enough in that technology. You could make a call but then it took many decades to the iPhones we have today, and it’s incredible.”

AI will play a defining role across people’s lives, Matt Brittin, president of Google in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told The National in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“It is going to give us special powers that we didn't think we could have had and in our lifetimes. Even in the next five years, I think we'll be doing things we didn't think we could have dreamt up before.”

Updated: February 27, 2024, 3:19 PM