The risks and rewards of Generative AI: Navigating the future of ChatGPT in the world of work
While the seeds of modern AI were planted by early philosophers, we have come a long way to now getting accustomed to using unpredictable and fun AI tools like ChatGPT. Generative AI, also known as creative AI, is an exciting field of artificial intelligence that has gradually begun to change the world we know today.
Unlike other AI technologies that are designed to perform specific tasks or solve problems, generative AI can generate new and original content, designs, and ideas. Hence, many tasks and processes in the workplace can be automated and optimised with just a few clicks. Yes, there is fun and excitement because human love for technology is being translated in the best possible way, but can we ignore the potential risks and concerns generative AI holds?
The risks and rewards of generative AI were the focus of People Matters’ most recent LinkedIn Live session under its Big Question series. Panellists Dr Fermin Diez, Deputy CEO and Group Director at NCSS and Diana Wu David, advisor, author, educator and speaker, deliberated on the uncertain future of ChatGPT in the world of work.
The AI evolution
Be it workplace analytics, performance management, employee engagement, retention or even recruitment, HRs have grown accustomed to using AI for several years now. Such tools are designed to automate specific tasks and streamline HR processes, such as resume screening or scheduling interviews. However, now generative AI tools have come to the forefront, constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible. This means that HR teams can use these tools to stay ahead of the curve and adopt new and innovative approaches to HR-related tasks.
“Previous AI technologies mostly focused on recommendation engines and auto-completion of text. In contrast, generative AI can create unpredictable and exciting outputs. This kind of AI taps into our love for human creativity. But also, we can’t ignore the fact that generative AI can potentially perpetuate bias if the data it is trained on is biased. Hence, the impact of generative AI on HR can be both good and bad, depending on how it is used,” suggested Diana Wu David.
Privacy risks: The dark side of generative AI
With the increased use of this technology comes an increased risk to privacy. When it comes to Human Resources, one of the most significant privacy risks of generative AI is employee data protection. Generative AI algorithms collect, store, and analyse employee data and the Deputy CEO and Group Director of NCSS highlighted that these significant data need to be protected and secured to prevent unauthorised access, use, or disclosure. Employers must ensure that they comply with data privacy regulations and that employees have control over their data too.
“While generative AI in HR can be incredibly useful, it also poses significant privacy risks. One concern is that AI systems can remember conversations for a long time as part of their algorithms, potentially learning sensitive information about employees or job candidates. This information could be accessed and used in ways that violate their privacy, either by the company or by third parties who may seek to obtain it. To ensure data privacy, all AI tools need to be monitored, and companies must work with their IT and legal teams to establish and maintain standards that comply with relevant regulations,” said Dr Fermin Diez.
He further added, “While bringing AI tools in-house may limit some data privacy issues, it also introduces new complexities. As technology continues to evolve, legislators must keep pace with these advancements and establish rules to protect individuals' privacy. As it stands, legislation tends to lag behind technological developments, creating a gap that can leave individuals vulnerable to privacy violations.”
Will AI replace or enhance human labour?
With the advent of ChatGPT, many people are beginning to wonder if this new technology can take over their jobs. Our panellists believe that generative AI will not necessarily take over HR jobs, but rather enhance and augment the work of HR professionals. It is essential to recognise that while ChatGPT can automate some tasks, it cannot replace the interpersonal and human skills necessary in HR roles.
“I don't believe that ChatGPT will necessarily replace jobs, but rather, those who do not learn to effectively use these tools may be at a disadvantage when compared to those who do. It may require some management and learning, but it's not much different from the management and learning required to effectively search the internet. Just as when searching the internet, the quality of the answer you receive from ChatGPT depends on the quality of the question you ask. Overall, I believe that ChatGPT is a valuable tool that, when used effectively, can enhance and streamline certain job functions, rather than replace them,” Dr Fermin Diez told People Matters.
“In today's world, it's common for people to feel anxious about incorporating emerging technologies into their work. However, I believe that it's important to understand the changes taking place in our industry and learn how to capitalise on them. While technology may automate certain aspects of our work, there are still many skills and qualities that are uniquely human and necessary for success. In fact, it's often our personalities and human aspects that enable us to contribute in meaningful ways,” added Diana Wu David.
The role of critical thinking in a world of AI
As we discuss the potential of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools, one thing that we need to remember is that AI is not capable of the nuanced and contextual analysis that humans can provide. Highlighting the same, the Deputy CEO of the National Council for Social Service, Singapore, said, “Critical thinking is irreplaceable by AI.” Individuals must continue to develop and use their critical thinking skills to analyse complex systems, make informed decisions, and evaluate the accuracy and reliability of AI-generated outputs.
“One of the essential skills we must teach our students is critical thinking, even with the availability of tools like ChatGPT for research. Critical thinking is irreplaceable by AI. It allows us to analyse complex systems, evaluate risk-reward dimensions, and consider human factors in complexity analysis. While AI systems can only deal with related items, humans can still perform tasks that require a deeper level of analysis. Therefore, it's crucial to encourage critical thinking in students, and as an instructor, I've integrated ChatGPT-generated answers into my course as a means of assessment. Instead of accepting ChatGPT's answer as truth, I want my students to evaluate it critically and express their thoughts on it. We should not blindly rely on computer-generated answers but exercise our judgment and critical thinking skills,” he advised.
To gain further insights from industry experts on the pressing issues in today's ever-evolving world of work, do follow People Matters' Big Question series on LinkedIn.