AI – It’s neither artificial nor intelligent, or is it?
Author Mike Meyer, Portman Partners Managing Director
AI – It’s neither artificial nor intelligent, or is it? AI is now the primary influence driving demand for datacenters, with many of our customers indicating this as their main driver for MW capacity growth, M&A and institutional investment. Other aspects such as increasing reliance on digital entertainment, including social media, online gaming, and streaming services are also considered to be contributing factors.
I recently asked ChatGPT two simple questions, as I’m sure many of you have done, and the answers, while interesting, raised more questions.
Is AI artificial?
I’ll paraphrase – AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and learn like humans. It’s “artificial” because it is man-made, it uses algorithms and data to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as decision making, problem solving or pattern recognition.
What can’t ChatGPT do?
Once again paraphrasing – While ChatGPT is a powerful language model capable of ‘lots of things’, but there are ‘lots’ of limitations to its abilities. Here are the top 10:
- Understanding Context: It generates responses based on the inputs, but it doesn’t have any memories of past interactions. Each interaction is treated as a standalone context!
- Long-Term Contextual Understanding: Due to the lack of memory, it may not maintain long-term context throughout a standalone conversation. Consequently, it might provide inconsistent or contextually inappropriate responses in longer discussions.
- Critical Thinking and Common Sense: While it can provide detailed and coherent responses, it lacks true understanding, common sense, and critical thinking abilities. It may generate plausible sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers. I’ll summarise, it might ‘LIE’.
- Original Thinking: While it can be creative and produce novel text, it’s limited to the patterns and information present in its training data. It cannot generate original ideas or information.
- Emotional Understanding: While it can recognize and mimic emotions to some extent, it does not possess emotions or emotional understanding.
- Personal Experience: It doesn’t have personal experiences or access to external information beyond its training data. It can’t provide firsthand knowledge of events or experiences.
- Real-Time Updates: Its knowledge is limited to information available up until its last training update, which was in September 2021. It does not have access to real-time information or developments beyond that date.
- Physical Actions: ChatGPT is a language model and exists purely as a program. It cannot perform physical actions or interact with the physical world.
- Morality and Ethics: While it can be guided by ethical guidelines programmed by its developers, it lacks true moral understanding. It has the potential to generate inappropriate or harmful content.
- Understanding Its Own Limitations: Unlike humans, it does not possess self-awareness or an understanding of its own limitations. It may generate responses that appear confident but are incorrect or nonsensical. I’ll summarise again, it might ‘LIE’.
In summary it’s essential to recognize these limitations while using AI systems and not rely on them for critical decision-making tasks or areas that require human expertise and judgment.
Everyone knows AI technology is rapidly changing the datacenter market, and, as the MD of the leading leadership level industry search firm, I wanted to focus on how this is likely to affect the recruitment and job-seeking landscape.
With the imminent skills shortage and the predicted growth of almost a third (32%) each year until 2029 for datacentres in Europe alone, it is worth considering whether AI can plug some of these gaps. In 2019 29% of respondents to Uptime’s annual survey thought AI would have an impact within five years, but fast-forward (almost) five years and there is little to no evidence of this transpiring. And yet the results of 2023 survey show that nearly three-quarters of respondents believe that AI-based software tools will eventually reduce datacenter operations staffing levels.
But of those surveyed 27% don’t believe it will have any impact, 48% don’t think it will have an impact within the next five years but 25% think it will. Who’s right? Portman Partners haven’t seen any downturn on resourcing, to the contrary, we only see an acceleration.
So can AI help fill the vacancies? According to a recent report by Gartner, ‘AI-driven recruitment technology can significantly enhance the speed, accuracy and cost-effectiveness of the recruiting process’. However, while it has some potential benefits, the potential, and likely, risks must be considered. And even more so when key strategic leaderships roles are being filled.
The recruitment and job-seeking landscape!
Here are the top five ways I think AI may harm Datacenter recruitment specifically in the coming years.
- Automating recruitment processes may lead to job losses for human recruiters (some may consider this a benefit, I don’t). AI-driven systems can scan candidate resumes for keywords, schedule interviews, and even conduct initial interviews more quickly and efficiently than humans. But are they as good yet?
- AI-driven systems may introduce bias into the recruitment process. AI-driven systems are only as good as the data they are fed, and if the data contains elements of bias, so will the decisions made by the system.
- AI-driven systems may make spotting unique or out-of-the-box talent harder. This is because AI-driven systems are programmed to find and select the most fitting candidates based on predetermined criteria, which may overlook those with unusual qualities or experience. It lacks the human touch.
- AI-driven systems may lead to a narrowing of skills and experiences when recruiting. AI-driven systems are programmed to find and select candidates that fit specific criteria. This can lead to a narrowing of the skills and experiences required for a role, reducing the diversity of potential candidates. Will this increase or decrease the number of candidates you must vet per role?
- AI-driven systems may lead to an even greater need for more human connection in the recruitment process. This is because AI-driven systems cannot provide the same level of personal connection as humans, which can lead to a less personalised and engaging recruitment process. The cultural element.
These are just some of the potential risks associated with AI in recruitment. It is essential to be aware of these risks and take steps to mitigate them to ensure the recruitment process is fair and effective. However, we cannot escape the fact that AI in recruitment is revolutionising how employers can find and hire the best talent.
The value of using an executive search firm such as Portman Partners is, and always has been, that we are intelligent and genuine, never artificial. We speak to industry professionals and passive high performers for firsthand accounts and testimonials, we undertake cultural due diligence, we benchmark, we assess areas of immediate impact, measure cross transferable skills, gauge enthusiasm and looking beyond the CV, and what someone has done, to what their potential impact could be. Good search partners read between the lines where AI only sees the lines.
What is coming will change how recruitment is done, and it is fair to say, if you don’t seize the great aspects of the AI opportunity you will miss the boat. But when it comes to people and recruitment, you need intelligence of the human kind.
About the Author:
Mike Meyer is the Managing Director at Portman Partners. He brings with him 25+ years of direct hands-on experience across Digital Infrastructure, Data Center, IT, and Telecoms businesses prior to moving into Executive Search. As a seasoned director, founder, and entrepreneur, Meyer has an established leadership track record having structured, restructured and built successful and cohesive teams globally.
Through his career in the United Kingdom, Europe, South Africa and Africa he has developed in-depth knowledge of diverse, multicultural and multinational teams and organizations as well as an desirable industry network. Having founded, grown, and exited numerous businesses successfully he’s now turned the skills he honed searching for the best talent to grow his businesses to searching for the best leadership talent to grow Portman Partners client’s businesses.