Leadership, Startup News & Analysis

Alibaba founder Jack Ma: Robots will replace chief executives in 30 years

Dominic Powell /

Alibaba Jack Ma

Alibaba founder Jack Ma

Startup founders may have thought their leadership positions were safe from the rise of the machines, but Alibaba founder Jack Ma believes companies could be run by robotic chief executives in just 30 years.

Speaking at a China Entrepreneur Club event, Ma explained why he thinks machines will be able to do what humans cannot and how a lack of emotion will help robo-chief executives get things done.

“30 years later, the Time Magazine cover for the best CEO of the year very likely will be a robot. It remembers better than you, it counts faster than you, and it won’t be angry with competitors,” Ma said at the event, according to the New York Post.

“Social conflicts in the next three decades will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life.”

Ma also discussed how businesses globally should change their attitudes towards automation and robots, and claimed any business not linked to the internet could suffer in the future.

“Machines will do what human beings are incapable of doing,” Ma said.

“Machines will partner and cooperate with humans, rather than become mankind’s biggest enemy.”

Ma founded online retail giant Alibaba in 1999, and the company reported revenue of RMB53.2 billion ($10.2 billion) in the last quarter of 2016. In February Alibaba opened its first Australian headquarters, with Ma saying at the time Alibaba is focused on making it easier for local businesses to sell globally.

“Alibaba Group’s vision for the ANZ region is to build the entire operating infrastructure needed to enable local businesses to expand globally,” he said.

“Australia will always have a special place in my heart and that’s why I am so pleased to come back to contribute to supporting Australian businesses to create opportunities and jobs in a country that has meant so much for me.”

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Dominic Powell

Dominic is the features and profiles editor at SmartCompany.

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