Stéphane Garelli: “Up till now, we have been better at lying than robots”

Nordic Business Forum 2017 got off to a flying start with Stéphane Garelli of the IMD (Institute of Management Development) giving a rapid-fire talk on the world competitiveness outlook from 2017.

Not many people can talk about competitiveness, globalization and general economic outlook in such an entertaining manner and the reaction from the crowd resembled more of what one would expect from a comedy show. Garelli is also well-known for his screen presentations and yet again, he didn’t disappoint.

His talk began with the good news that the world is in synchronized economic recovery but he warned of standing back and admiring the flowers for too long. One must always look to the road ahead.

A big takeaway from the talk was the issue of robotics and how that will shape the near future, not only in terms of economy but what it all means for us humans. We are not so far off from technology becoming intelligent.

Garelli went on to explain that robots are beginning to outperform humans in almost every sector. “We have a world champion in Chess, we have a world champion in Go and even better, we have a world champion in Poker”.  He said that this is a huge revolution because in poker you have to lie. “Up till now, we have been better at lying than robots. If we cannot lie anymore then where is our advantage”

He also examined the issue of whether robots should pay their fair share of tax if they are going to take all our jobs. “People say, “Well then, let’s tax them!” but the problem is defining what a robot is… Is it an android? Is it a machine? Is it a computer programme? What is a robot? As long as we don’t define what a robot is, there is a problem.”

With the onset of A.I., robots will be increasingly re-programmable with the obvious advantage of speed over human learning, re-learning or re-programming.

Garelli envisions a time when  a typical job interview could conclude with “Yes, we are looking for someone with your exact qualifications, but a robot version.

However, we humans do have the gift of comprehension which might be a while coming for our robot replacements. “Robots have a lot of competence but they do not have a lot of comprehension. The world champion in chess doesn’t know it’s playing chess or has become a world champion.”

Garelli concluded this part of his jam-packed talk with some positive news for if robots become too much to deal with, ”For those of you that are really worried about robots, remember we all have the ultimate weapon against them, the plug. Unplug it and it’s finished.”


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