Generative artificial intelligence and extended reality are powerful tools that can help address pressing societal challenges and business problems by augmenting, expanding, and extending the human experience rather than replicating or replacing it.
Therefore, the businesses that find success with these technologies will be the ones that also harness human-centric capabilities such as creativity, curiosity, and compassion, according to MIT Sloan senior lecturer
The key is figuring out how humans and machines can best work together, resulting in humans’ abilities being multiplied, rather than divided, by machines’ capabilities, McDonagh-Smith said during a recent webinar hosted by MIT Sloan Executive Education.
“If we wish to create the sustainable, robust, profitable, productive organizations of today and tomorrow, we need to amplify and propagate our human capabilities through our internal and external networks,” said McDonagh-Smith, who teaches the Business Implications of Extended Reality (XR) executive education course.
“It’s not about focusing on the differences between humans and machines but at looking at the ways in which they can be unified and united,” he said.
Creativity unlocks advanced technologies
Over the past half century, society has experienced two digital revolutions. The first was in communications, taking us from analog phones to the internet. The second was in computation, which introduced personal computers and smartphones. Together, they’ve fundamentally changed how we work and live, McDonagh-Smith said.
Now we’ve entered a third digital revolution, built around creativity, he said.
It’s up to humans to add the “creativity quotient” to use technologies like generative AI to their full potential. For organizations, this means creating processes, practices, and policies that empower people to be creative to maximize the power of transformative technologies.
“Boosting your creativity quotient will optimize the use of large language models and generative AI,” McDonagh-Smith said. “It will also put all of us in a much better place in terms of how we interface with AI and technology in general.”
Focusing on human creativity has other advantages beyond serving as a foundation for multimodal generative AI in business networks. McDonagh-Smith said human creativity is critical to delivering cross-disciplinary insights and making connections between domains, which will enable AI to generate sustainable competitive advantage.
The scenario is similar for extended reality. Curiosity will be essential for thinking of ways to bridge the world of bits and bytes with the world of atoms and molecules, McDonagh-Smith said. Assets, experiences, and identities cultivated in today’s physical domains will cross over into digital contexts, and it’s up to people to unite the two, he added.
To guard against bias, users will also need to develop an “immersive curiosity” — a foundational skill that rejects bias and results in increased discretionary efforts, McDonagh-Smith said.
Immersive curiosity is also instrumental to improving outcomes, weakening the status quo, and opening up new opportunities, whether a business is seeking out new target audiences or carving out new segments.
Recipe for success
McDonagh-Smith recommends the following to organizations looking to increase their creativity quotient:
Start now. If organizations wait until the technology has evolved to the next phase, they are going to miss the boat.
Build a cross-functional team of teams. Siloed, functional approaches aren’t in sync with the digital economy, which relies on different skills and diversity of thought. Digital transformation needs to be a team sport.
Make compassion part of the mix. Proactively engineer diversity, equity, and inclusion into digital solutions from the discovery phase through the design, delivery, and data-informed evolution phases.
“We need to put more of the human into our robots and machines,” he said. “We need to make sure they’re representing the best of who we are and can become as a species.”