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AI: A cheat sheet on the good, the bad, and the ugly for your business.


There is so much information about AI that it’s difficult to know where to start, so we’re briefly going to take you through the basics – the good, the bad, and the ugly – to help you understand how it could impact your business and your people.



The Good


At the World Economic Forum in 2022, Google CEO Sundar Pichai predicted that AI will be more transformative to humanity as a species than electricity and fire.


Electricity and fire. It’s impossible to imagine life without them.


Check out these AI statistics:


In 2015, McKinsey & Company estimated that 45% of work activities could be automated using AI. That’s good news if AI can replace jobs considered ‘dirty, dull, or dangerous’ by human resources.


In 2020, AI had already been shown to outperform doctors diagnosing breast cancer. Again, that’s good news if you are one of the 20,000 Australians diagnosed with breast cancer each year.


In 2021 AI could design computer chips in less than 6 hours compared to months when designed by humans. That’s a win for productivity. In fact, it’s predicted that productivity can be increased by 40% through artificial intelligence and Global GDP is expected to grow by $16 trillion by 2023 due to AI.  That all sounds pretty impressive.


Industries such as health, defence, education, manufacturing and banking have found advancements in AI especially useful and IBM states that 41% of small companies are now developing an AI strategy for the future.


And while AI is expected to replace more than 80 million jobs, the World Economic Forum projects that more than 97 million new jobs will be created by 2025 due to AI technology (PWC report ‘Will robots really steal our jobs?’).


Embracing AI technology can significantly contribute to the success and competitiveness of your business and bring numerous benefits to your people. These can include:


Increased productivity, speed and efficiency

  • Augmentation of creativity, increased innovation and growth

  • Improved decision making

  • Enhanced client experience

  • Improved workplace safety

  • Greater inclusion

  • Individualised learning and development

Sounds great right? Read on…


The Bad


Over a glass of wine the other night, a HR Manager confessed that when she didn’t know what to do, she just asked ChatGPT. Ingenious or dangerous?

 

Probably a bit of both – we asked ChatGPT to write an AI Policy to see how it turned out. Not something we would recommend if timeliness and accuracy are important to you. Top tip – you need a reasonable understanding of a subject to know what questions to ask generative AI and what results to dismiss outright - which isn’t helpful if you don’t know what you don’t know.

 

The main concern with turning to AI in this sort of scenario is that it doesn’t provide reliable information. AI systems can produce invented answers or “hallucinations”. Its accuracy is based on the information it’s been trained on, so it is essential to validate and verify the outputs. HR practitioners, on the other hand, are required to point to a reputable source to back up their advice, at the very least look at the balance of probabilities or address the onus of proof.

 

Besides inaccuracy and false data, there are other risks when it comes to working with AI such as:

  • Possible bias, discrimination and inappropriate content

  • Threats to cybersecurity and privacy

  • Dubious ethics and evolving legislation

  • The impact of automation on peoples’ jobs and the risk that any associated change management processes may be done poorly

 

Taylor Swift was swept-up in a deepfake controversy in January 2024, which racked up 47 million views before it was removed. Mostly deepfake images are used in pornography (as this one was), but increasingly they have been used in business meetings. In February, a Finance worker at a Multinational was tricked into paying $25 million to fraudsters who used deepfake technology to pose as the company’s CFO in a video call.

 

To avoid being taken in by a deepfake, there are various techniques like analysing facial and body movements, examining inconsistencies in lighting and investigating artifacts and anomalies in the manipulated content. Is it too soon to mention Kate Middleton’s family photo?

 

Business needs to remain vigilant about potential security risks associated with AI content for malicious purposes, for example the increased risk that sensitive company data may be exposed if entered into an AI system for analysis. A good AI Policy can assist with mitigating these risks.



And the Ugly


Really ugly. Armageddon-ugly.


Max Tegmark, a physicist at the MIT, said, “With fire, it was OK that we screwed up a bunch of times, but in developing artificial intelligence, as with nuclear weapons, we really want to get it right the first time, because it might be the only chance we have”. Good to know.


Elon Musk predicted that AI would be more intelligent than humans by 2025. (I expect we can all think of cases where that’s probably already happened…?).


In 2015 Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk believed that AI was a threat to humanity and a year ago Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and about 30,000 others called for an immediate six-month pause on the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.


This group of experts were concerned that AI could present a ‘profound change in the history of life on Earth’ as we have been ‘locked in an out-of-control race to develop ever more powerful digital minds that no-one – not even their creators – can understand, predict, or reliably control’.


If you ask me – resources that are incomprehensible, unpredictable and uncontrollable sound a lot like people. At least HR will always have a future (with or without the ‘human’ element). 


So, what do you do?


Introduce an AI Policy and educate your team on what AI practices look like in your workplace to make the most of the opportunities that it creates but to also protect your team, your business and yourself.


If you need a hand with this reach out to us at Streamline HR.


 

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