It may seem like a sci-fi film out of the 1980s, but artificial intelligence, while science, is no longer fiction. In the past 12 months alone, we have witnessed both AI’s rapid acceleration and advancement as well as its adoption. Seemingly overnight, tools such as ChatGPT became the subject of public fascination — and apprehension.
Generative AI — that is, machines that learn from existing data and mimic human intelligence to perform tasks — is transforming the very ways in which we work and live. More than merely a technological tool, AI is defining how people and machines can work together.
In the best case scenario, AI can automate mundane, repetitive duties, freeing up workers’ time, energy, and attention to focus on higher-level processes and projects. The technology can help open up new revenue channels and create new jobs. The World Economic Forum predicts that the technology will create 97 million new jobs by 2025.
In the worst case, AI’s impact on the job market has long been a chief concern. In a now-famous statement earlier this year, Goldman Sachs rang the alarm bells: Generative AI could impact as many as 300 million jobs, or 7% of the US workforce.
What Are the Benefits of AI in the Workplace?
AI technology is becoming increasingly easy and less costly to implement, while offering ever-accelerating complexity and speed. With proper guardrails in place, generative AI can not only unlock novel use cases for businesses but also speed up, scale, or otherwise improve existing ones.
Some of the business applications of AI that are already in regular practice include enhanced customer service, faster product development, and improved employee productivity. Real-life examples include generative AI’s ability to support successful interactions with customers, draft computer code based on natural-language prompts, and propel visionary research & development projects, among an array of other tasks.
McKinsey’s latest research reveals that generative AI can potentially boost productivity by saving 60 to 70 percent of workers’ time through automation of their work; in fact, half of all work will be automated between 2030 and 2060. This monumental impact on productivity could add the equivalent of $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy.
What Are the Risks?
The C-suite should consider the rewards vs. the risks of implementing AI in their organizations — but avoidance is no longer an option.
The risks associated with generative AI are significant and shifting. Because ChatGPT and other tools like it are trained on large amounts of publicly available data, they are not designed to be compliant with General Data Protection Regulation and other copyright laws, so it’s imperative for organizations to pay close attention to their uses of the platforms. Currently, China and Singapore have regulations regarding the use of generative AI in place, while the U.S., Canada, India, the U.K., and the EU are currently shaping their regulatory environments.
Enterprise risks to monitor include:
- Understanding AI’s uncertain evolution. Considering generative AI is still developing as a technology and is therefore unpredictable, companies should do their due diligence before full-scale implementation. Before using generative AI to create external-facing content, test extensively with internal stakeholders.
- Ensuring accuracy of information. Generative AI systems have been known to produce inaccurate and even fabricated answers. Assess all projects for accuracy, appropriateness, and usefulness before relying on or publicly distributing information.
- Overcoming bias. Organizations require controls in place to detect biased outputs and deal with them in a manner consistent with company policy and any relevant legal requirements.
- Protecting intellectual property. There are currently no verifiable data governance and protection assurances regarding confidential enterprise information. Users should assume that any data or queries they enter into generative AI tools will become public information.
- Controlling cybersecurity and fraud. Enterprises must prepare for malicious actors’ use of generative AI systems for cyber and fraud attacks and ensure mitigating controls are put in place.
- Considering environmental impact. Generative AI uses significant amounts of electricity. Choose vendors that reduce power consumption and leverage high-quality renewable energy to mitigate the impact on your sustainability goals.
With questions and concerns such as these and others not easily answered, through their careful adoption, business leaders can help shape the conversation around the future of generative AI in the workplace. It’s up to organizations to protect their employees and their customers from the risks associated with these new technologies.
From Experimentation to Implementation
Generative AI has the capacity to completely transform the labor force — much like the Industrial Revolution did more than 200 years ago. The hype will subside as the reality of implementation sets in for enterprises, but the impact of generative AI will grow as people and enterprises discover more innovative applications for this revolutionary technology in daily work and life.
As we are in the very midst of this rapid evolution, a trusted recruitment partner — especially one centered on technological advancements and a data-driven approach — can help organizations find and hire the skilled professionals that will lead them through the current uncertainty and boldly into the future.