AI in the workplace – the genie is out of the bottle!
(Disclaimer 1 – this article was NOT generated or enhanced by any AI intervention)
(Disclaimer 2 – Such disclaimers may very well become the norm – watch this space!)
Just like every other occupation or profession, HR and ER professionals are faced with a plethora of new challenges following OpenAi’s decision to release ChatGPT and to make this ‘new toy’ available to one and all. This is certainly the topic of the day on many discussion boards, and many of the discussions seem to be centred around either the ‘novelty factors’ or the often ‘doomsday’ style existential threats that AI presents to humankind in general and to entire businesses or professions.
Questions keep circulating, such as – Which of our jobs will be replaced by AI? How many redundancies are we going to be facing? Will our products or services be required for much longer? How can we make use of this incredible new technology in our day-to-day tasks? ……. This is all well and good – we must continue to have those discussions and to prepare for different scenarios as they develop and we all need to somehow keep up-to-date with the technology as it evolves exponentially – this train has long left the station and is not stopping for anyone!
Keep in mind – it is not AI that will be making most people redundant but rather it will be the person who learns how to use AI better than others who will.
Besides learning how to use the technology and simply keeping abreast of this new world as it unfolds, as HR and ER professionals we must also consider what policies need to be put in place around the use of AI in the workplace. Some companies are reported to have essentially banned the use of AI and have issued a “DO NOT USE” Policy.
The majority, however, still seem to be taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude until the muddied waters churned up by the rapidly developing landscape settle, knowing that all the while they remain exposed to the as yet uncontrolled risks to the business presented by employees’ use of AI in their work.
Both these approaches are, in our opinion, flawed. The former will very soon be outdated and will either be impossible to police or will render the workplace adopting it totally unprepared for the new world order. On the other hand, not having a policy in place at all leaves the workplace exposed and unable to control the threats presented by the use of AI, whilst also not encouraging the ability to reap any of the benefits and opportunities on offer.
AI will continue to develop and will become more and more integrated with our everyday tools such as Google search, photo and video editing suites, Adobe Acrobat and every other tool and application that will refuse to become the 21st century Kodak! The benefits of having instant access to vast amounts of data knowledge and computational intelligence cannot be underestimated in any way! To this end, some companies chasing this rainbow of a rapid 10X increase in productivity are now even making it mandatory for staff to make as much use of generative AI as possible in their daily tasks.
Love it or hate it, fear it or embrace it, AI is here to stay and is already very much part of the landscape. It may be challenging for some of us mere mortals to comprehend the new tech that is being churned out practically on a daily basis and to somehow keep up with the unbelievable advances in computational power and learning that is happening as we speak.
It is hard for us to imagine what some of the new models or updates announced perhaps just yesterday now allow us to do and what we are to expect in the future …. Not just 10 or even 5 years from now, but in the coming weeks and months! The tech experts do not need to use any crystal ball for this – the tools are with us already and, in many instances, the various artificial intelligence tools that have been or are soon to be, released, no longer need any human guidance or intervention as they continue to learn all there is to know – exponentially and without any human prompts!
The genie is well and truly out of the bottle and there’s no putting it back in.
So – What should an AI workplace policy include? How can we prepare a policy that both allows the harnessing of the huge opportunities that AI presents, yet protects the business from the very real risks and threats AI poses? We at Three60 Consult cannot proclaim to have the answer to this yet, although we are giving it a lot of thought and hope to soon have a generic AI Policy that can then be adapted to the specific opportunities and threats faced by different businesses.
Meanwhile we wish to start an open discussion amongst our LinkedIn community around the use of AI in the workplace and the importance and relevance of having robust policies in place. Please go to our LinkedIn page to share your thoughts/comments.