Joe Atkinson, PwC. Image: © Connor McKenna/

PwC’s Joe Atkinson: Human judgement ‘incredibly important’ with AI

24 Jun 2024

An AI future will mean humans plus augmented technology, says PwC’s newly anointed global chief AI officer. He spoke to Ann O’Dea about the potential for human-led AI.

Organisations have a responsibility to ensure their people have the skills to thrive in an AI world, according to PwC’s new AI chief, Joe Atkinson. He points out that his role would not even have existed just two years ago, demonstrating the speed of transformation when it comes to business and AI.

And this ongoing transformation is one that PwC is making a huge bet on. Last year PwC recognised the potential of generative AI announcing its ambition to invest $1bn to bring the power of this technology to all of its people and its clients.

Atkinson says he sees this investment only increasing in coming years. What is more, in recent weeks, PwC’s US and UK firms signed an agreement with OpenAI to become OpenAI’s first reseller of ChatGPT Enterprise.

Atkinson sees the human very much being at the centre of this transformation. “People’s abilities will climb as a result of using great technology to support them”, he says. “We see an AI-driven future, and in such a future, you need the people who can use the technology in a thoughtful and responsible way.

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“I think as an organisation we have an obligation to our people, to help them navigate through this time so that they as individuals have the skills to apply the tech.”

However, he’s quick to add that it will always still come back to the human. “I say to our teams all the time: If you produce something now, you’re responsible for it. If you produce something tomorrow that may have some AI in it, you’re still responsible for it. And I think that connectivity of the human in the loop, that human judgement applied to the AI is just incredibly important.”

Watch the full interview to get a picture of how Atkinson sees the impact of AI on business, health, climate and society as a whole.

Find out how emerging tech trends are transforming tomorrow with our new podcast, Future Human: The Series. Listen now on Spotify, on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

Ann O’Dea is the CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic and the founder of Future Human