#153: The Magic Conveyor Belt: Supply Chains, A.I., and the Future of Work

#153: AI’s Influence on the Future of Work Featured Image

Professor Yossi Sheffi is Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics (MIT CTL), and Director and Founder of the Master of Engineering in Logistics Program. He is a faculty member of the MIT Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, as well as the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. 

Professor Sheffi has shared his knowledge through his books, including his latest, “The Magic Conveyor Belt: Supply Chains, A.I., and the Future of Work.” He has been one of the leaders in the field at educating and sharing with the general public the wonders of supply chain logistics.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Yossi Sheffi: LinkedIn

Some of the highlights from the podcast:

  • Why Professor Sheffi wrote the book “The Magic Conveyor Belt: Supply Chains, A.I., and the Future of Work”
  • Case studies and examples of the magic of the conveyer belt
  • Are all human jobs doomed?
  • Artificial Intelligence in supply chain and the future of work
  • Importance of people in monitoring processes
  • Transition and societal acceptance of Artificial Intelligence
  • Progress in the education sector

Show notes:

  • [00:59] So you called your latest book, ‘Magic Conveyor Belt?’ Why is it magic?
  • [02:58] “At one point in the book I said, once you understand how big and complex and how many people in an organization are involved, and it isn’t millions, you will understand that it’s magic. There is no Overlord, it happens by itself. It’s pairs of buyers and sellers that work along the supply chain, and it works.” 
  • [04:09] You mentioned in the book about building upon the magic of the conveyor belt and all these interconnected supply chains, which ultimately are networks of people. Can share one or two examples that you prefer from the book? 
  • [07:34] How is Artificial Intelligence going to play out specifically in logistics and in supply chain? Is it going to make work easier or harder?
  • [09:14] “ChatGPT is something that people in universities are worried about because students are using it to write articles. But, what do you care? Do you care when your students use a spreadsheet to solve a problem? You don’t, because it is just a tool. What you have to do now is to teach them how to use it well, how to do the queries, and most importantly, how to monitor the results.”
  • [11:55] “In the book, I tried to look at all the industrial revolutions and what happened. And in every one of them, a few jobs were lost and many jobs changed. But mostly a lot more jobs were created than losses.” 
  • [14:57] Can you tell us more about monitoring the process, like the example you had in the book regarding the two publishing houses?
  • [18:58] “One safety device that we need to put in the system is an off switch, just the ability to switch it off.”
  • [24:33] Now, ChatGPT can already do most of the stuff better than whoever is just entering and starting university. What will happen to students? How will they acquire those 2 – 5 years of experience?
  • [27:39] “70% of students in Germany are hired by the company where they were doing their internship.”
  • [31:45] How to transition the workforce with minimal disruption?
  • [34:28] “Would any of your audience go on an airplane that has no pilot? My guess is that 0% of your audience will do it.”
  • [38:44] “Understand that we didn’t get to ChatGPT on one Friday afternoon, we started talking about expert systems 50 years ago, and developed it until we got to generative AI.”
  • [41:42] If you were to go at it from a tech angle to solve the problem, what would you do?
  • [42:39] “When I talk about one thing that I will not do, it is to start an AI company, because right now, there’s a gold rush and everybody is starting an AI company, and 99% of them are going to fail.”
  • [43:47] “When my students ask me how to start a company, I tell them to go work for a real company for a few months or a year and find 50 issues that they are not solving. Companies have many problems and you will find that they are not the only ones and every other company has the same issue. So start with a problem not with a solution.” 
  • [45:20] How do you see education progressing?

Quotes from the Episode:

About the Host:

The host, Radu Palamariu is the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”. He has been named one of the top 3 Global Supply Chain Influencers on LinkedIn and was featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, WEF, Bangkok Post, and MIT Supply Chain Talent magazine. Radu invites executives to share stories and perspectives around technology, logistics, e-commerce, supply chain, and manufacturing, and their views on how the future will look.

Alcott Global connects and upgrades the supply chain ecosystem by finding the right talent through executive search, developing talent through learning solutions, and meeting supply chain technology needs through a comprehensive crunch base marketplace.

The supply chain executive search has been our focus since the very beginning, offering recruitment services for top-tier supply chain roles at every level of the end-to-end supply chain: plan, source / procure, make, and deliver. Our consultants have years of experience in placing top talent, in North America, LATAM, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and APAC, and besides speed, one of our biggest strengths is our network within the supply chain industry, and we capitalize on it to find the best solutions.

Through the years, we have grown as an organization and our offerings with it. One of our initiatives, the learning solutions- training and supply chain academy, is focused on transforming leadership- self-leadership, executive presence, influence capital, and business acumen. Through Supplify, we aim to match corporations with the top technology companies to solve their supply chain and logistics challenges with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

We are in constant touch with the leaders in supply chain, inviting them to inspire the supply chain professionals in thought-provoking podcast episodes and events, and showcasing what is possible at the yearly Leaders in Supply Chain Awards.

Related Episodes:

#150: The Power of Diversity and Inclusion in PepsiCo

#151: Chemicals Supply Chains, Changing Organisations, and Mindsets

#152: Toll Group, Future of 3PLs, Executive vs Non-executive Board




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