Turkcell CEO Koç: Those Utilizing Artificial Intelligence Will Supersede Those Who Don’t

Dr. Ali Taha Koç, the CEO of Turkcell, emphasized the necessity for individuals in the business world and entrepreneurs to be proficient in artificial intelligence (AI), stating, “Those utilizing AI will supersede those who don’t.”

Speaking at the opening of the second day of the AI Tomorrow Summit 2024, held at the Ankara Bilkent Hotel and Conference Center under the theme “We’re in the Future,” Koç remarked on his lifelong engagement with technology, boasting 63 patents in the field.

Highlighting the significance of envisioning as a crucial path to success, Koç stated, “The world needs dreamers, but it needs those who make their dreams come true even more. AIPA was founded as a dream, but now it’s a team realizing its dreams. They have become capable of organizing such beautiful, high-quality, content-rich conferences.”

“We Can Witness AI Changing Many Things in Business Processes”

Koç underscored the increasing capacity of humans to realize their dreams over the years, with technology providing significant support in actualizing these dreams. Referring to the contributions of cybernetics pioneer Al-Jazari to the scientific community, Koç noted that he realized what he dreamed of during his lifetime.

Pointing out the gradual development of productive AI-powered robots influenced by figures like Al-Jazari, Koç stated, “Currently, productive AI-powered robots are working, operating in factories, and driving autonomously. We can witness AI changing many things in business processes and the way we work.”

Koç remarked on the acceleration of significant changes, which used to occur every decade but are now happening on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. From AI to quantum technologies, from augmented connected workforce to reliable cloud access anywhere and anytime, Koç emphasized the prevalence of various technologies in human life.

“What We Need to Do Is Teach the Use of AI”

Addressing one of the most significant questions arising from discussions on AI and technology, whether “productive AI will replace humans,” Koç stated that he provides a clear answer to this question.

Koç elaborated, “AI is something that enhances human potential and supports humans. It will definitely not replace humans, but we must realize that those who use AI will supersede those who don’t. What we need to do is not only produce AI but also teach how to use it. If you are in the business world or an entrepreneur, you must know AI.”

Koç emphasized that this situation applies not only to individuals but also to companies, stating that companies utilizing AI will surpass those that do not. He indicated that by 2027, it’s expected that three out of four companies will be using productive AI, making AI indispensable for companies.

Expecting 50% of productive AI models to be functional by 2027, Koç evaluated, “Currently, it’s believed that AI, especially productive AI, can do everything, but we now see the emergence of functional AI models. There’s a transition from AI that does everything to AI that does one thing exceptionally well.”

Koç stressed that at this stage, well-developed technology is hardly distinguishable from magic.

Facing significant responsibility regarding AI, Koç expressed, “What is this? How will we train AI? AI is like a child. The result depends on how you train it. When training AI, we need to know with which dataset and perceptions it was trained. We have learned to use it, but we need to know with which dataset the AI algorithms were trained. It’s essential that we are informed about how AI algorithms were trained with which dataset, as relying on the outcome without knowing this information would be a significant problem for all of us.”

“Data Privacy Is Highly Valuable to Us”

Illustrating potential issues that may arise in AI, Koç emphasized the importance of human factors in these technologies. He highlighted the significance of ethical values concerning knowing which datasets are used in AI algorithms.

Stating that Turkcell has developed an algorithm that establishes ethical values, Koç remarked, “We can say that we are the only company in Turkey that has a document on the ethical values of AI. If a AI technology is to be developed in Turkcell, there are certain questions to be asked. Firstly, ‘How did you collect this data? Did you obtain consent when collecting this data?’ Ensuring that it is free from biases and preserving data privacy are essential for us.”

“We’re Heading Towards an Era of Transformation”

Koç noted that with the latest technological advancements, there have been changes in the nature of work in addition to the blue-collar and white-collar distinctions, with the addition of digital collar workers.

Observing the beginning of machines performing tasks, Koç mentioned that Turkcell has hundreds of digital collar workers.

Koç stated that last year Turkcell’s digital collar workers performed around 2,000 tasks.

Emphasizing that tasks with repeatable features should now be performed by digital collar workers developed with AI, not humans, Koç noted that they have started providing services to objects as well. He continued, “We’re not only serving humans but also objects now. We’re heading towards an era of transformation. This era of transformation is called the ‘Era of Collaboration.’ So, what do we mean by the ‘Era of Collaboration’? In the past, communication was only between people, but now we’re entering an era where people communicate with objects as well.”

Koç stressed that not only humans but also companies should adapt their ways of working to be compatible with both objects and digital collar workers.

Indicating that there’s always a demand for the highest quality connection from both Turkcell and all technology companies, Koç noted that Turkcell is celebrating its 30th year and has always provided the highest quality connection anywhere, anytime.

“Objects Also Want to Connect Now”

Koç remarked that humans cannot let go of connecting and staying connected, mentioning that those who look at their mobile phones first thing in the morning without checking anything else are referred to as “digitally obese.”

Koç stated, “Now, you can’t escape staying connected. I ask you, what could have happened in the world while you were asleep for 8 hours? What could have happened on social media? We’re immediately curious about what happened overnight. Our people cannot let go of staying connected and connecting. Is it just our people? No. Objects also want to connect now. By 2030, we expect 40 billion objects to be connected.”

Pointing out that in a place where there are 8.5 billion humans, 40 billion objects will create a significant market, Koç stressed the importance of discovering how these two groups will work together.

Koç emphasized that companies have a significant role to play here, stating that both startups and technology companies need to keep up with this and make technological investments accordingly.

Stating that Turkcell has initiated such a project, Koç mentioned that their 30th-year motto is “Turkcell works with everything, and everyone works with Turkcell.”

“We’ll Turn Turkey’s Century into the Digital Century”

Koç mentioned that Turkcell has established a venture investment fund, stating, “Here, many of our friends are entrepreneurs and establishing their own companies. We say to you, come to Turkcell to support you without fail. With our venture investment fund, we want to support you even more and contribute to your growth process. We won’t exceed 3-5%. We’ll do our best to support you to become bigger. Our goal is to be a lifeline for you as angel investors.”

Offering advice to entrepreneurs, Koç emphasized that entrepreneurs should first convince themselves of their own ideas.

Koç mentioned that he genuinely embraces the ideas of many startups, but this can eliminate rationality to some extent.

Stressing that the startup ecosystem is not a one-person area, Koç mentioned that they invest in teams, not individuals.

Koç mentioned that everyone is trying to do something related to AI, but most of them cannot be properly utilized.

Koç indicated the necessity of becoming proficient in utilizing existing AI algorithms properly and training them correctly, stating, “From now on, we need to produce natural processes. We closely follow and support studies, but it’s essential to keep our feet on the ground. Since the day we started, we’ve been saying, ‘Turkcell equals technology,’ and we’ll continue to invest in technology. With our over 1,500 R&D staff and with you, we’ll strive to progress towards a country that not only follows but also develops technology. As Turkey’s Century begins, we say that Turkcell will exist in the digital century and we’ll turn Turkey’s Century into the Digital Century.”

source: prepared by Melisa Beğiç

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