Kathy Gibson is at the NEC XON Summit in Sun City – The fourth industrial revolution is set to cost society thousands of jobs. But this is nothing new, says Carel Coetzee, CEO of NEC XON. “Innovations have always taken jobs away, but they also create a myriad of new jobs that never existed before.

“This cycle has been repeating itself for decades. And we will create millions of new jobs that we haven’t thought of before.

“As businesses we need to start thinking about how we can make this happen.”

Thought leader Stafford Masie agrees that technology like artificial intelligence (AI) has been misrepresented in many instances, and used to spread fear about wholesale job losses.

“AI is not one thing: it is various intelligence things coming together. The coming together of people and machines is true artificial intelligences.”

He adds that it’s impossible to buy AI, and there are no AI experts either.

“An AI engine is actually quite simple. It gets power when it’s combined with other, disparate data sets.

“AI is when you bring humans, machines, big data and realtime feedback loops together.

“For businesses, you can allocate budget to buy AI. But the biggest challenge is really that human beings are now being augmented by AIs.”

Just picking up a phone offers access to disparate AIs, Masie points out. “Google is an organism. It keeps looking at what you are doing, and what other people are doing, and from that it disseminates functions.”

Other ecosystems create in other ways, depending on what the outcome is that they want.

“But these companies are augmented by human data,” says Masie.

For organisations, the mantra shouldn’t be about doing one thing only, he adds. “There is wealth of human capital outside your organisation waiting to be unleashed in your organisation.

“People are asking: how can I take what you deliver as a business and make it better?”