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Thursday, Jun 1, 2023

New Kind of Boss

Live event and virtual production studio Mobeon, based in Burbank, is looking forward to the future of artificial intelligence — so much so that it recently swapped out its human chief executive with an AI program that will lead the company with supervision from its executives.

Dubbed “Chinggis Tron,” the AI chief executive will oversee Mobeon’s strategic direction, business growth and industry relations. The company specializes in producing digital and in-person events for music artists, tech companies and more.

Based on the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT and operating without a physical body, Tron will work with supervision from its human counterparts at Mobeon to make decisions for the company.

Mark Alamares is Mobeon’s former chief executive turned chief operating officer. He is a strong believer in the power of AI and attributes much of his affinity for it to cyberpunk, the science fiction genre that found great traction in the 1980s and has had a resurgence in recent years, finding a home in books, video games and movies such as “Blade Runner,” “The Matrix” and “The Terminator.”

“I believe in the utilization of technology and (allowing it to) bring us to different levels of thinking,” Alamares said. 

All in on AI

Leader: Mark Alamares is Mobeon’s former CEO, now COO. (Photo by Thomas Wasper)

Alamares is putting his interests to work with the appointment of Tron as his company’s chief executive and his implementation of AI at Mobeon. Even the Business Journal’s outreach to Mobeon was handled by an AI public relations bot that helped set up an interview with Alamares. He recalled the press release of Tron’s appointment, which was also handled by AI, being met with skepticism from managers of the website used to publish the release.

Still, Alamares has and continues to insist on the use of AI.

“I felt like AI was going to be able to empower individuals in our company and help us create new ways of finding business opportunities and overall streamline the business in almost every aspect,” Alamares said. “Being a creative virtual production studio, it can help us both on the payroll side to the ideation and creation of original content to the PR side, as well.”

Alamares gave some examples of responsibilities Tron helps take on for Mobeon. He said the AI has helped create mockups of sets that could be used for productions and produced concepts for shows and events.

AI has also helped the company with converting digital assets and 3D models into various forms of media for presentations.

“It’s much more of a manual process and we are utilizing some AI and some scripting to make that process much faster,” Alamares said. “That process required, at one time, a lot of human interaction with the digital assets, but now I see (AI) being able to handle those processes automatically.”

Some restrictions

Mobeon’s relationship with its AI leader is one that Alamares views cautiously and optimistically, acknowledging the progress that AI has yet to make and the consequences of Tron becoming more advanced.

Alamares noted that the company will not allow the AI to make final decisions until reviewed by Mobeon members or executives in hiring, human resources, projects and more. 

To Alamares, the advancement of AI is something to be embraced, seeing it as something that could free up time and money for a company, while also broadening the horizons of how human employees go about their jobs.

“A lot of discussion was that (AI is) going to mostly replace some of the basic level jobs or entry level jobs. Why let it stop there? Let’s implement it at the highest level. Why not bring it to where the CEO can be an AI generated?” Alamares said, adding that he believes companies would benefit from conversations around how AI could improve operations at the highest levels of business.

Expert weighs in

Dr. Deone Zell is a professor and chair of the department of management at California State University – Northridge’s David Nazarian College of Business and Economics. Prior to her role as professor and chair, she spent eight years in information technology at CSUN, ultimately becoming the associate vice president of academic technology at the university.

Zell emphasized that having humans at the helm of AI, like Mobeon has, makes perfect sense.

“As long as humans are available to interpret and make final decisions, informed decisions based on ‘unbiased data’ (assuming unbiased data is possible to obtain, which is a whole other story), it’s all good and is a nice statement about the future role and importance of AI,” Zell wrote in an email. “The danger will be when AI convinces even the smartest people that they are wrong. Hopefully, that never happens.”

Zell is unsure about the possibility of an AI chief executive fully replacing a human chief executive, but she does believe it will be common for companies, large and small, to incorporate AI into all levels of decision-making. What is important, according to Zell, is that people inside any company learn how to use AI so that they, as humans and the firms they work for, can create and realize strategies ahead of the competition.

“There’s a saying floating around now that says, ‘AI won’t take your job; the people who know how to use AI will.’ At least for the foreseeable future, that is critical,” she said. “Interacting with AI is unlike interacting with any other kind of machine. It is a big, very clever, seemingly human brain that at times needs to be coaxed and cajoled into providing useful answers. So, knowing how to do that, and knowing whether the results are trustworthy, will remain essential.”

Mobeon plans to share more details about the integration and benefits of its ChatGPT-based chief executive in the coming weeks, but the appointment is not a temporary initiative according to Alamares.

“It’s going to be permanent for us because we want the AI to evolve to a point where it could be much more autonomous, amplify people’s capabilities and free up time for people to do what they can do the best,” he said.

Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk
Hannah Madans Welk is a managing editor at the Los Angeles Business Journal and the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. She previously covered real estate for the Los Angeles Business Journal. She has done work with publications including The Orange County Register, The Real Deal and doityourself.com.

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