AI-Vengers – Forbes

At a recent team meeting, different members were assigned Avenger roles reflecting what they brought to the problem at hand. Since I am not much of an Avengers fan, I did what anyone would do in such a situation: ask their children to explain the relevant concepts. As I learned more about the Avengers’ roles and responsibilities, I couldn’t help but notice many parallels to AI.
For example, Nick Fury is the founder of the Avengers, responsible for bringing them together and protecting them from internal strife and external threats.
Before the Avengers formally unite in the 2012 film, Nick Fury has a shadowy role in early Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films such as Thor and Iron Man. He typically operates in the background, only making post-credits cameos to remind heroes that their individual struggles are part of a larger project.
As I see it, the role of the AI leader is to emulate Nick Fury. Not only is the best AI invisible, the leaders of AI exist to drive greater effectiveness and efficiency from offstage.
● Nick Fury is the connective tissue whose importance we may underestimate. The AI Leader also plays this role. Aligning with data scientists, they identify and prioritize the projects that can be solved using AI. And when a solution is developed, they ensure that there is enough support to operationalize it.
● Nick is responsible for bringing varied skill sets together for a singular purpose. AI also thrives by unifying concepts, fields and skills that previously seemed discrete. AI brings together data scientists, machine learning engineers, data engineers, and business translators. These seemingly disparate skills need to be assembled and purposed towards a greater goal.
● Just like Nick, the AI leader is largely invisible and operates in the background to coordinate across different parts of the organization. AI applications are owned and consumed by the business, the data is curated, and data pipelines are often built by Analytics and the infrastructure is enabled by IT.
Although he guides and supports the Avengers, Fury is not truly one of them. Most of the Avengers have superhuman mental and physical skills – Steve Rogers was injected with strength serum, whereas Thor is a lightning god. Fury’s strength is in wrangling the strong, clashing, and often self-centered personalities of the Avengers toward a common goal. He tries to encourage each Avenger’s strengths, cover for their weaknesses, and push objectives that will benefit humanity rather than any specific Avenger.
● Just as Nick himself is not superhuman, we do not have to ask that of the AI leader. AI leader may not have expertise on every technique or every problem, but they must feel confident in being able to rely on those that do be it their knowledgeable peers or team members
● They work by unifying various resources and competencies in a compelling manner which seemingly produces the magic of AI.
● AI leaders can also help to reconcile personalities and departments which seem opposed. They must have empathy for the commercial mindset (“get it done, produce results”) as well as for the product mindset (“design for the long term, control risk”).
● AI leaders must avoid tunnel vision of specific problems and remember that AI is a capability that strives to meet the larger goals of the organization.
Nick Fury manages varied personalities towards a common purpose by leveraging strengths, covering for weaknesses, assigning ownership where it belongs, and demanding coordination when necessary. That sounds a lot like an AI leader to me.

Connect with Chris Hood, a digital strategist that can help you with AI.

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