Rethinking Compensation In A World Where AI And Human Intelligence Are Merging

Kwame Som-Pimpong
Written by Kwame Som-Pimpong
AI human intelligence
Image: Autumn Keiko

As artificial intelligence becomes ever-present, new models of thinking about our relationship to technology and business will go through changes we can’t envision.

Just as leaders in AI think about how not to build algorithms that hurt Black people, it is critical that Black people take agency in shaping the nature of these relationships. We are getting clues that signal how we should be shaping the future.

Interesting developments in business and technology

Startups are working on developing technology that matches the power of artificial intelligence with the abilities of humans. For example, Unanimous has built algorithms that draw on how animals swarm to leverage intelligence on how humans converge online. The tech company’s Swarm AI technology combines wisdom, insights, and intuitions of diverse groups in a single emergent intelligence that amplifies our individual intelligence. The startup has helped investors improve their forecasts, increased the accuracy of sports forecasts, and more.

As the technology makes its way through other parts of business, will it wind up matching the destruction brought on by locusts taking over farmland or the beauty of schools of fish moving in unison?

The Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of America’s leading companies, released a letter stating that in addition to shareholders, companies have a duty to support all Americans including customers, employees, communities, and suppliers. Corporate titans like Larry Fink (CEO of BlackRock, the largest money-management firm in the world) had been pushing the conversation in this direction for the past several years. Now that this shift has happened, what does this position look like in deed for corporate America? Will this be “corporate social responsibility plus” or will this be a pivotal change in how companies do business?

New relationship, new compensation

Let’s assume we’re in a future state where AI is completely embedded alongside us and our collective intelligence is spinning up trillion-dollar companies across pharmaceuticals, energy, retail, and more. These companies have embraced reshaping their relationship with the various stakeholders to whom they’re committed, but are experiencing friction trying to figure out what that commitment looks like when it comes to people’s bank accounts. Gig work drives the U.S. economy as swarm intelligence makes workers able to get the core piece of their job done in fractions of the traditional workday, leaving contracting as an attractive option for building a portfolio of work. How are these workers compensated in this new environment?

My concern is that with AI and human intelligence merging, the value people will provide companies at a micro-level could easily be lost in the sauce of crowdsourcing human intelligence to come up with game-changing drug discoveries or insights about consumer behavior, and the list goes on. To date, a lot of compensation around crowdsourcing has taken the form of one-time costs — a gift card or $25 cash. In the future world I’m describing, a strong move would be developing a system that compensates people providing mental inputs for companies that is aligned with the growth of the companies they work with.

For example, through Earn, one can secure a bitcoin upon completion of a task. Imagine this layered on top of Unanimous.ai’s technology? Rather than the prizes the company currently gives out, a strong move could be providing individuals with a token like Scott Kupor suggests in his piece on remixing companies’ relationships with customers. Kupor is managing partner at Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.

In this instance, as a company grows, the people who have contributed to that growth stand to benefit. Twenty years later when it is a $2 trillion business, there won’t be Business Insider articles about where you would be if you had bought $1,000 of stock. There would be pieces about where you would be had you participated in developing our collective intelligence.

Worth taking the lead

This is one idea. Black people should continue imagining what the future needs to look like and figuring out ways to take ownership of shaping it. As artificial intelligence rises, we stand in a precarious position considering our heavy representation in industries that have significant amounts of work that can be automated. We’ve got to use the parts of our genius we donate to brands we don’t own to create opportunities for ourselves and our children.

Kwame Som-Pimpong leverages relentless research, a knack for connecting dots, human-centered design approach, and effective communications strategy to help organizations realize their strategic objectives. Over a 10-year career, Kwame has supercharged grassroots political organizing efforts, assessed the effectiveness of U.S. federal agencies, managed an international program, founded a digital media startup, and advised government agencies on delighting their end-users. He earned a BA in Political Science from Davidson College and Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.