The AI revolution is currently on its way, creating numerous challenges and opportunities for both organizations and employees alike. This leads to a compelling and important question: How can we thrive in this new industrial revolution? To help find the answer, I recently spoke with Eli Fathi, CEO of MindBridge Ai, an award-winning audit solutions firm.

What attracted you to an opportunity in the AI universe?

AI represents the fourth industrial revolution, which offers unlimited potential and growth, and is very exciting. Andrew Ng, the former chief scientist at Baidu, compared the impact of AI on the world to the impact of electricity. AI is like a runaway train with no brakes and continuous acceleration, riding the wave of technological advancements that continues to advance at breakneck speed. Society is riding this wave and will end up in a situation, called singularity, where humans and machines are on equal footing. When that’s the case, a machine can perform and think like a human. At this point, all bets are off in terms of what will happen next, which is scary in one way but very attractive as there are many opportunities to make a positive difference in the world.

What are you hearing from chief executives and leaders of organizations that leverage AI in terms of the tremendous potential and the metaphor that it’s a runaway train?

If you consider all the other industrial revolutions, there was always hope and fear. The same thing is happening with AI, in that it can have a positive impact on society, in applications such as healthcare, or it can offer challenges, such as people using deepfake videos for misinformation. Historically, there has been a great fear of “technology unemployment,”, which has been proven incorrect. The reality is that new job creation far exceeded job loss in all three previous industrial revolutions. The recent study by Edelman found that both executives and the public say that AI is going to favor the rich and hurt the poor. This means that AI could be divisive if not positioned properly, causing concerns among business leaders and the public.

Although AI has been around for over 50 years organizations don’t have a long history with it and adoption lags because most companies are still in the midst of their digital transformation. As one important example, many organizations have built up large databases of both internally and externally collected information. Unfortunately, these diverse systems are generally not connected to each other and rarely use the same format. Furthermore, since AI is a very nascent technology, C-suite executives may not have all the knowledge they need to make decisions. These factors make the short-term adoption of AI solutions challenging.

What are some of the fears around AI and its impact on society?

If you look at the statistics, there are roughly 360 million manufacturing jobs in the world and every time a robot is introduced, it replaces 5.6 million people. If you assume that 60 million robots are being utilized, the potential exists for all manufacturing jobs to be eliminated. There are also roughly 3.6 million cashiers in North America. In 2016, Amazon introduced the “concept store”, Amazon Go, that enabled consumers to purchase items without visiting a checkout counter. What happens to cashiers when we don’t need humans to run the cash registers?

Whenever a component of new technology is introduced, there is also a cascading effect on secondary jobs. Right now, although wages in the long-haul transportation industry are relatively good, we know driverless vehicles are coming soon. How do you train truck drivers to become data scientists and will their salaries remain at the same level? How many jobs associated with body shops, tow trucks, hospitals, and traffic enforcement officers will be impacted when driverless cars lower or eliminate all accidents?

Another area that everyone should be concerned with is deepfake videos. Consider the situation where a deepfake video is created that shows a publicly-traded organization with either favorable or unfavorable financial performance. By the time the public realizes what’s going on, the share price of that organization may be severely impacted. It’s a disruption of the way the world works today, and how can we stop that?

Ultimately, we can’t make judgements on whether AI is good or bad. All stakeholders are concerned, including the public, governments, and enterprises. It’s up to society to determine whether AI will bring a utopia or dystopia and right now, it’s too early to predict.

What skills do you think leaders need to prepare their organizations for an AI-based future?

Regardless of the future of AI, leaders need to prepare themselves and their organizations to manage it. There are two types of organizations, the producers that are creating AI systems and the consumers that are leveraging the technology. On the producer side, like our company MindBridge Ai, we need data scientists, data engineers, and software developers to acquire, shape, prepare, analyze, and present data to our end users.

AI-based systems are here to stay, and the C-suite of the consumer organizations need to embrace and leverage the new technology to remain competitive. Every white-collar profession is undergoing some degree of AI disruption, including healthcare, law, and transportation. AI is not to be feared as it’s going to automate certain functions to help the organization become more efficient. 

What advice would you have for aspiring leaders in terms of preparing for AI in terms of now and the future?

Don’t fear AI, embrace it. AI is and will impact our day-to-day lives so embrace it is better to be an early adopter and make it a positive future.

For business leaders and executives, empathy is essential. As we move to more AI systems, there are some knowns and some unknowns, creating fears about jobs and pressure on individuals. The public is scared, so being an empathic leader ensures we can more effectively manage and reduce their fear.

What suggestions would you have for leaders to be more empathetic?

When you talk to an individual or a team, be fully present. Don’t be distracted by your phone. Leave your computer behind. A lot of leaders now say they don’t have the time but by being there, it will go a long way towards showing understanding and compassion. People can look into your eyes and you know that you are there for them.

Empathy is going to be king in the age of AI because people are looking for assurance that technology is not going to displace or replace them. Although it may sound odd to me, I believe that empathy and AI are essential partners in this revolution.


  • Craig Dowden, Ph.D.

    Certified Positive Psychology Coach and best-selling author of "Do Good to Lead Well"

    Craig Dowden, Ph.D., a certified positive psychology coach, is on a mission to share evidence-based leadership principles. In particular, he is passionate about sharing the science of leadership, team, and organizational excellence with the people he serves. An inspiring and thought-provoking executive coach and an award-winning keynote speaker, Dowden partners with clients from diverse industries and sectors, who benefit from his drive, passion and insight. Dowden prides himself in providing world-class content to his clients. To date, he has interviewed over 65 CEOs of top North American companies, including McDonald’s, IKEA and VIA Rail. He has also interviewed widely known best-selling authors and TED speakers, including Marshall Goldsmith, Daniel Pink, Adam Grant, Susan Cain, Barry Schwartz, Marilee Adams, Adam Bryant and Doug Stone. He routinely integrates these conversations and insights into his client work. Dowden combines the key learnings from these interviews, along with evidence-based principles from the fields of psychology, leadership and organizational excellence in his best-selling book, Do Good to Lead Well: The Science and Practice of Positive Leadership (ForbesBooks, Feb. 8, 2019). The book outlines the return on investment of the six pillars of positive leadership – self-awareness, civility, humility, focus on the positive, meaning/purpose and empathy – and provides a practical and engaging roadmap showing how executives can effectively demonstrate these behaviors within their day to-day leadership practice, for their benefit, as well as for the benefit of the teams and organizations they lead. Called “ideal reading for people who want to make a positive impact in their organizations” by best-selling author Daniel Pink, Do Good to Lead Well is resonating with top corporate executives and international thought leaders, with endorsements from best-selling authors and top-rated TED speakers such as Adam Grant and Marshall Goldsmith, as well as over 20 CEOs of leading organizations. Dowden shares his views and expertise through articles published regularly in business and HR publications including the Financial Post, HR Professional, Canadian HR Reporter, Canadian Manager, the Huffington Post (U.S.) and Psychology Today. Dowden was recognized as one of Ottawa’s “Forty under 40” business leaders by the Ottawa Business Journal, a select group of individuals who “exemplify leadership, entrepreneurship and community building.” He will be a regular contributor to in February 2019 upon publication of his book. Dowden received his Doctorate in Psychology with a concentration in Business from Carleton University and completed his Bachelor of Science in psychology at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. He currently lives in Toronto. For more information, please visit