• Eye Opening
  • Concrete Examples
  • Insider's Take


In recent decades, business has focused on eliminating layers of human judgment and flattening organizations. That same mind-set has influenced the development of artificial intelligence for business, which has fostered “algocracy” – bureaucratic algorithms that automate processes using rules and procedures to save money. Management consultant Sylvain Duranton argues for a more robust “human plus AI” approach that incorporates human judgment every step of the way. Duranton doesn’t get too technical, but his examples may inspire businesses to take a fresh look at how they adopt AI.


Artificial intelligence operates based on rules alone, just like a bureaucracy.

Many corporations are trying to implement AI solutions that eliminate human decision making. These companies boast a “human-zero” mind-set, as opposed to a “human plus AI” mind-set. Human-zero solutions are cheaper and faster to execute because businesses don’t invest time or effort into exploring how AI and humans could work together most effectively. Yet research shows that the companies that have managed to monetize AI most successfully aren’t concerned with replacing humans to save money; rather, they dedicate 80% of their AI projects to optimizing the decision-making process and fostering growth and effectiveness.

Left to their own devices, algorithms can make terrible decisions. For instance, if you buy a burial urn from Amazon, the site’s algorithm will continue to recommend other urns to you, based on your previous purchases. Or a college that employs an algorithm to conduct its admittance protocol may inadvertently end up rejecting all...

About the Speaker

Sylvain Duranton is a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group.

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