Businesses urged to embrace AI with caution

Some experts discussing the risk management and role of Artificial Intelligence during the Business Resilience breakfast Meeting in Kampala on April 18, 2024. PHOTO/ BUSEIN SAMILU

What you need to know:

  • Ms Xenia Wachira the Country Manager of BrighterMonday Uganda said that there is a need to take AI with both positive and negative perspectives in mind.

Experts have warned business owners and organisations to be cautious while embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in order to protect their firms from the latter’s negative effects.

While acknowledging AI's potential to streamline operations and reduce costs, experts highlighted the importance of mitigating potential downsides. 

“You cannot do away with technology because where the world is moving, whether you want it or not, technology is part of us so the earlier we embrace it, the better. However, there are risks that come with technology, that is why we should be careful because even criminals outside there are becoming more sophisticated in technology,” Mr Alexander Mukasa, the Managing Director of Marsh, Global Insurance, Broking and Risk Management firm at the Business Resilience Breakfast on Thursday in Kampala.

Artificial Intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

These are systems with characteristics of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalise, or learn from past experience, and are taking over in performing tasks hitherto reserved for humans.

Its advantages and convenience aside, there are also multiple concerns and ethical dilemmas including the possibility of structural biases.

Mr Mukasa cited an example at Marsh where AI assists employees in advising clients on risk management, ultimately enhancing job security rather than replacing them.

Ms Xenia Wachira the Country Manager of BrighterMonday Uganda said that there is a need to take AI with both positive and negative perspectives in mind.

“We need to understand how we can collaborate human interaction and AI to be more productive, how we can reskill people who are bound to lose jobs to AI so that their jobs are not affected in future,” she said.

Relatedly, Mr Jonan Petersen, Marsh’s Head of Strategic Risk Consulting in Africa, said businesses should embrace AI with caution, stating that “we need to take advantage of the efficiencies that come with AI but also need to educate ourselves so that we are aware of the worst that comes with it.”

Ms Meg Jaquay, the President of American Chamber of Commerce Uganda however said people need to look at using artificial intelligence in business with a positive mind.

“I use AI everyday but it makes me efficient and when your employees are more efficient, your customers’ base will appreciate that efficiency and will give the employees better job security. It’s not replacing but just like a co-pilot that is helping employees leading to great customer satisfaction.

The meeting was organized by Marsh in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce Uganda with an aim of engaging different businesses' CEOs on risk management especially in hard times.

The discussions, according to Mukasa, were centered on the importance of proactive risk management, crisis preparedness, and the role of technology in ensuring continuity during disruptions.

Absa Bank Uganda’s Managing Director Mr Mumba Kalifungwa Managing Director said as businesses prepare for managing risks, there is need to know that the world is now living in the fourth revolution “where technology is part of us,”

“So we need to responsibly embrace technology and take our responsibilities of managing technology like those providing services using it must protect their users using it and users themselves also need to know that they should embrace technology with caution so that they protect their financial and data sets,” he said.