Dr Vishal Sikka's Meaning of Inclusive Capitalism

Dr. Vishal Sikka
Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Infosys

Technology as the enabler and amplifier of our uniquely human ability.

The single action that I believe will make capitalism more inclusive is to embrace, rather than fear, extreme advances in technology - in particular, advances in areas such as automation and artificial intelligence.

This might seem counterintuitive: I often hear questions about these advances creating a larger gap between skilled and unskilled workers or taking jobs away entirely. But the strength of inclusive capitalism is that it recognizes resources and potential beyond those that we traditionally consider (namely capital, raw materials and machines) to enable focus on the things that make us uniquely human.

Our most valuable future resource actually lies within us - our passion, creativity and imagination. Only when we open our minds into new areas will we solve the greatest challenges of our time, developing peaceful societies, improving the health of all, creating environments in which all children thrive, enabling stronger connections between us - which ultimately drive our feeling of being responsible for one another.

These notions, and the things we need to achieve them, are uniquely human capabilities. We can leave the mundane and routine tasks to artificial intelligence and automation, freeing us to pursue new ideas, new societies, new ways of connecting with each other - the important things, the things no computer program will ever achieve. Embracing technology is precisely what I believe will unleash this human potential.

At the same time, I understand the fears. Digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence have their risks - privacy protection and cyber security are pressing issues that need to be tackled by the public and private sectors. And technology, if it is to become an amplifier of our human potential, needs to be accessible to everyone. This will only happen if all people are in a position to exploit and benefit from the incredible opportunities of technology.

I believe we can solve these issues - fear, access, knowledge - in two ways. The first is by focusing on lifelong learning, satisfying people's continual hunger to develop, rather than focusing only on formal education systems. Such systems barely scratch the surface of our potential to learn and often fail to encourage or foster that which makes us human, such as a desire to explore. Learning brings deep understanding, and with that we can see the potential in all of us, the potential to use technology as an amplifier.

The second is formal education, which must be transformed. There is little disagreement that we must change our education systems and challenge our assumptions around education, but there is much disagreement about how best to do this. I believe a simple but significant thing we can change in the education system is to include computer science as part of the core curriculum.

This would give everyone access to fundamental knowledge and skills, removing the elitism around technology and enabling us all to be part of the dialogue. It would reduce the fear of technology and of artificial intelligence taking over the world, and enable a more inclusive and open debate about how to solve challenges around privacy and other areas.

These are not easy things to do, but we must do them. We must take away the fear of what is inevitable and create the right framework for us all to benefit. That starts with embracing extreme advances in technology and creating a level playing field around understanding the power of technology. I urge all of us - in business, politics and society - to play our part and ultimately help create a more inclusive capitalism.