Hey, C-Suite: Say Hello to Your New AI Intern

The times they are a-changing. Just ask your brand-new executive “assistant”.

Executives may be turning out to be artificial intelligence’s “true believers”.

The data certainly bears that out.

According to a 2023 survey of 1,000 travel industry executives from Skift and AWS, 95% of executives said, “digital transformation is important to the overall strategy and success of their businesses, and 86% said that AI would be an important implementation in the next three years.”

Does that sentiment extend to their own offices?

We’re starting to find out as a new wave of AI-powered “interns” have begun popping up on C-Suite executive calendars and Slack channels.

Historically, internships are a good opportunity for young college-age go-getters to show their mettle in the workplace for a summer or two. While the human intern may have more recently depended on technology to show their stuff, they likely never expected to be replaced by technology.

Yet here we are.

The trend first started last year with Codeword, a technology marketing and public relations company. The firm made news – and waves – by announcing a pair of computer-generated interns named Aiden and Aiko, instead of the real flesh-and-blood standard.

Company officials said it was more “exploration” than revolution, but they want to be transparent about the new age of interns and their experience in it.

“There’s a lot of talk and fear and hype about how new AI tools will integrate with creative teams,” said Kyle Monson, partner at Codeword in a news release. “As an agency that straddles the creative and technology worlds, we want to explore what human-AI collaborations can look like. And we’ll do it in public, so our team and our community can learn from this experiment.”

Skeptical, But Open-Minded

Human team members – especially senior-level execs, say they’re open-minded, but dubious, too. But they’re committed to learning with their new digital interns and staying the course.

“Like all interns, it will take work from the org to figure out what they’re capable of and how they can offer meaningful help,” said company senior art director Emilio Ramos. “To be crystal clear, I’m deeply skeptical they have the goods. Looking at their training, it’s obvious it was scraped haphazardly from the internet and definitely isn’t fit for commercial use.”

That’s why Codeword isn’t jumping in face-first to the AI intern experience, Ramos noted.

“We’re experimenting with integrating these techniques into carefully controlled internal workflows,” she said. “In the meantime, we’re actively investigating image sets like Google’s Open Images v7 — built from images under the Creative Commons BY 4.0 License — that might one day allow for commercial use.”

That’s good news for AI firms looking to make headway in the emerging digital assistant services market.

It’s not, however, great news for Chad at Amherst or Brenda at Michigan State, who may well wonder why their internship offers aren’t rolling in, but Aiden and Aiko may be getting all the work they can handle.

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