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December 7, 2022

Good morning.

If day one of Fortune Brainstorm A.I. made clear that A.I. technology is advancing at a prodigious pace, day two brought recognition that business adoption is not. Sanjeev Vohra of Accenture—Fortune’s lead partner on the A.I. event—discussed his company’s study of 1,600 large companies, which found that more than half of them were still at the “experimental” stage when it comes to A.I. Only 12% were what he described as “A.I. achievers” who have “not only foundational capabilities…but are also looking from the business lens at how to exploit and leverage A.I. for generating business value.”

Joining Vohra onstage was Javier Polit, chief information and digital officer at Mondelez, the global snack company, which Polit said has “a strong commitment and investment into being an ‘A.I. achiever.’” I asked both Vohra and Polit to give their best advice for other companies trying to unlock the transformational power of this new technology. Their responses:

“The first thing is alignment on a data strategy, which is linked to the business goals. Many companies don’t have that…And the second is to invest in cultural change and talent change on the business side.”

“It’s really about training the edges of the business, and formal training to make sure they understand how to use the insights. It’s a massive training challenge.”

“The third thing is to invest in infrastructure…the code, the knowledge of artificial intelligence, the understanding of the innovation, the quality of the talent.”

“Making sure that you have the right data and technical capability…and understanding if I don’t have the capability, I have to bring in someone from the outside.”

“And fourth, responsible A.I., which I should not miss, because the business leaders have to trust A.I. for what it does and trust the outcomes…So having a transparent and fair system is extremely critical.”

Closing out the conference was Greylock partner and Silicon Valley legend Reid Hoffman, who had this to say about where A.I. was headed:

“As much as this year’s been interesting, it’s just literally that the door is beginning to open. And what we’re going to see over the next couple of years is going to be one of those transformational moments in technology. Think iPhone, think Mosaic browser. It’s going to be a super big moment.”

Hoffman also said that the discourse around A.I. as a replacement for humans was missing the bigger point:

“Let’s have people realize that everything that you do as a profession is going to have an [A.I.] copilot. So there’s this Microsoft product for engineers, or whether or not you’re a journalist, whether you’re an investor, an academic, a lawyer, a doctor, there’s going to be a copilot within maximum five years, maybe two.”

More news below.

Alan Murray





Adpocalypse soon

Meta’s share price plunged nearly 7% after the Journal reported a bombshell decision about online advertising; ad rivals Alphabet and Amazon also dipped. EU privacy regulators yesterday said they’d made a decision in a major case regarding people’s ability to use Facebook and Instagram without their data being used for ad-targeting. That decision will reportedly force Meta to let users opt out of personalized advertising, which may hit the company’s revenues hard. The Irish privacy regulator will announce a resolution of the case, based on the decision, next month. Wall Street Journal

Privacy to surveillance

Eric Léandri, who cofounded the privacy-first, publicly funded French search engine Qwant, is now in the cyber-surveillance business. According to a Politico exposé, Léandri’s company Altrnativ has been selling its investigative services to big French brands and at least offering them to authoritarian governments. Some of Altrnativ’s methods reportedly may breach EU privacy laws. Léandri: “I continue to defend privacy very strongly. That does not stop me from being willing to compete with Palantir.” Politico

ESG ‘hypocrisy’

The British activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners wants BlackRock founder Larry Fink to quit as CEO because of BlackRock’s flip-flopping on thermal coal investment, and its alleged failure to meet Fink’s sustainability commitments. From Bluebell’s open letter to Fink: “The contradictions and apparent hypocrisy of BlackRock’s actions have…politicized the ESG debate…The reputational damage of being dragged into this politically charged debate, in our view, is very significant because it calls into question the independency of BlackRock as an asset manager.” Financial Times



China’s relaxed COVID restrictions suggest it will reopen sooner than expected—but ‘millions of daily new cases’ will likely disrupt its economic recovery, by Nicholas Gordon

GameStop just became the latest tech company to lay off workers—and it’s cut down on its crypto team, by Alena Botros

The tech slowdown has started to bite in Europe: Less cash, dwarfed fundraising, and fewer unicorns, by Sophie Mellor

Meta bans staff from discussing ‘very disruptive’ topics including abortion, gun rights, and vaccines in new ‘community engagement expectations,’ by Kylie Robison

Jury convicts Donald Trump’s company of tax fraud, by Associated Press

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. 

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