By Zoe Han
Generative artificial intelligence can better replicate human-like output because it’s able to process extremely complex tasks.
It’s a new era for the workplace.
Corporate leaders appear to be excited about the revolutionary potential of artificial intelligence. And their employees? Not so much.
It’s no surprise, perhaps, that 62% of bosses in a recent Boston Consulting Group survey said they felt optimistic about AI’s impact on work, while only 42% of employees said they felt the same way, and 39% of employees said they were concerned.
The AI dye has been cast, and there is no going back. Julia Dhar, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, said it’s the responsibility of business leaders to train their workforce, and to prepare them for the incorporation of AI in the workplace.
“By prioritizing this critical training, employers and leaders can help their workforces fully harness the potential of generative AI in daily tasks — without losing sight of high-quality critical-thinking skills,” Dhar told MarketWatch in an email.
So why are companies excited about AI? Generative AI or other machine-learning tools are not new to companies, but this generation of tools allows the technology to better replicate human-like output because they are able to digest complex tasks.
And why are employees concerned? On Wednesday, McKinsey & Co. said AI could generate $4.4 trillion in value a year, equivalent to 4.4% of global economic output. Most of that would be felt in customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and R&D.
But McKinsey also warned that knowledge workers are likely to be the first to feel the adverse effects of generative AI in the workplace. Knowledge workers spent about a fifth of their time, or one workday per week, searching for and gathering information, it added.
Meta Platforms Inc. is one such company set to reap the rewards. Wolfe Research analyst Deepak Mathivanan raised his price target on Meta shares to $330 from $300 this week. Meta can use AI to “drive incremental image/video creation,” he wrote in an analyst note on Tuesday.
There are upsides for employees too. Research has shown that employees have used AI tools to eliminate time-wasting and repetitive tasks. ChatGPT, the leading generative AI tool released by OpenAI, has also been used to produce computer code, college-level essays, or even art.
In fact, one photographer’s AI-generated work won major prize recognition in the Sony World Photography Awards 2023. The photographer refused the prize and said the submission was to test the competition, and create a much-needed discussion about the future of photography.
Although many corporate leaders see AI as a game changer, workers have expressed concern about job security. Some 67% of senior IT leaders were prioritizing generative AI for their business within the next 18 months, according to recent research from Salesforce.
Here’s how business leaders and their workforce can prepare:
1. Learn how to ask the right questions
How do you take advantage of ChatGPT? Few people are familiar with smart prompting techniques or how ChatGPT works, according to Moritz Kremb, who writes a newsletter aimed at using ChatGPT for career advancement.
This is what he found: He gave “one-shot prompting” 3 out of 5. “This is when you provide the AI model with one example to learn from and generate the desired output based on that single input. Combining this with an instruction can be very effective,” Kremb wrote on Twitter
But he gave “few-shot prompting” 5 out of 5. “Here, you present the AI model with several examples to assist it in understanding the task at hand. This method is often the most effective, leading to more accurate and relevant results,” Kremb added.
2. Be acutely aware of AI-related bias
Critical thinking also plays a huge role in identifying biases and errors in algorithms. Artificial intelligence can double down on negative stereotypes identifying criminal suspects, for example, or — as happened to this Manhattan lawyer — make up answers and pass them off as fact.
It’s important that employees learn how to assess the accuracy of responses from chat bots like ChatGPT, Dhar said. Can a user detect whether an AI-generated answer is a mishmash of aggregated content? Is something missing?
“AI can generate data, but only humans can interpret what it means,” said Ashely Stahl, a career expert at SoFi Technologies, an online personal finance company and online bank. That requires companies outlining a strict code of conduct for the use of AI, Dhar said.
3. Soft skills are people-oriented skills
The good news: human beings cannot be replaced for many critical functions in the workplace: complex problem-solving, face-to-face communication, innovation and creativity, adaptability, and leadership, Ashley Stahl, career expert at online bank SoFi, told MarketWatch in an email.
All of these skills and talents come from interacting with others, Stahl said. While innovation comes from strategizing with others in the workplace to come up with solutions, creativity comes from balancing and organizing different personalities and perspectives.
Stahl said she encourages workers — especially recent graduates and younger employees — to “fearlessly get curious” about how they can leverage AI in their new roles, and make themselves indispensable too. “Make friends with this technology,” she said.
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