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Help! There's a Robot on my Board!

Coming soon to your BOD?
Coming soon to your Board of Directors?

 

Good news, fellow futurists! 

A Hong Kong venture capital firm has just named an Artificial Intelligence entity to its Board of Directors. "The Hong Kong company that announced the novel board addition last month is Deep Knowledge Ventures, a venture capital firm that does not have outside shareholders, just investors, and looks at developing technologies that stop the aging process -- clearly a matter of interest to many board members. The privately held company makes seed and early-stage investments in companies and research projects that stop the aging process," writes Tony Chapelle in AGENDA. The author goes on to report, "The software — known as Validating Investment Tool for Advancing Life Sciences, or Vital — analyzes trends in databases of biotech research companies to find ripe targets. The program was created by a British research firm, Aging Analytics. 

The piece goes on to assure readers that the robot board member will be amply assisted by those with human brains, but that the dispassionate evaluation of investment alternatives will be valuable to those seeking a good place to park their start-up billions. 

I think they're selling the robot short. There are several other benefits it could possibly provide. At peak performance the robot board member... 

  • Would require no world-class Cabernet, poached salmon or tasty cookies to keep the wheels of commerce moving; 
  • Would generate no annoying questions for senior management to wrestle with; 
  • Would show up in person at every meeting, rather than phoning in its contribution from the South of France; 
  • Would never fall asleep in the middle of a presentation, no matter how boring it might be or how tired it might have grown of hearing the same thing every quarter; 
  • Would never challenge senior management unless it was programmed to do so by a malevolent force in Human Resources; 
  • Would never grow old and require replacement by a less-reliable entity with unknown opinions about senior management.

This is clearly just the beginning of a trend that over the years will develop and broaden out to include many other corporations, not just flaky VCs looking for headlines from the FT. Smart executive teams should be looking at the options right now. You don't want to get left behind. And there may be other clear benefits to developing an activist board you can de-activate with a cattle prod and a glass of water. 

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