When it came to previous versions of AI, organizations had to worry about falling behind the business competition. The same is true for generative AI, of course. but this time there’s an added complication. Employers have fallen behind employees in AI adoption as well. This needs to be on the radar of HR, the IT department and executive leadership teams.
Execs: Important, Though It’s Going to Take Time
Most executives are familiar with the technology hype cycle, and they’ve seen AI hype before. So, is the generative AI movement different?
Well, probably. One survey from KPMG found that two-thirds of executives think generative AI will have a high or very high impact on their organizations over the next 3 to 5 years. But, being familiar with how long it can take to change anything, especially when it comes to new technologies, most also think it’s going to take a year or two to implement new generative AI technologies.
KPMG reports, “Fewer than half of respondents say they have the right technology, talent, and governance in place to successfully implement generative AI. Respondents anticipate spending the next 6-12 months focused on increasing their understanding of how generative AI works, evaluating internal capabilities, and investing in generative AI tools.”
All of which sounds fine, but only 6% say they have a dedicated team in place for evaluating and implementing risk mitigation strategies. Another 25% say they’re putting risk management strategies in place but that it’s a work-in-progress.
Employees: Already On It, But Don’t Tell the Boss
Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Fishbowl, a social network for professionals, reports that 43% of professionals use AI tools such as ChatGPT for work-related tasks. Of the 5,067 respondents who report using ChatGPT at work, 68% don’t tell their bosses.
This makes me wonder if A) there’s an intentional “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in some companies that are simply afraid of establishing policies or guidelines that could get them in legal trouble down the line, or B) there’s an unintentional bureaucratic lag as companies take months or longer to establish guidelines or policies around these new technologies.
But Some Employers Aren’t Waiting
This doesn’t mean that all organizations are lagging in this area, however. Some have already set up guardrails.
The consulting firm McKinsey, for example, has reportedly knocked together some guardrails that include “guidelines and principles” about what information employees can input into the AI systems. About half of McKinsey workers are using the tech.
“We do not upload confidential information,” emphasized Ben Ellencweig, senior partner and leader of alliances and acquisitions at QuantumBlack, the firm’s artificial intelligence consulting arm.
McKinsey specifically uses the AI for four purposes:
- Computer coding and development
- Providing more personalized customer engagement
- Generating of personalized marketing content
- Synthesizing content by combining different data points and services
Ten Suggested Do’s and Don’ts
There are now various articles on developing ethics and other guidelines for generative AI. Keeping in mind I’m no attorney, here’s what I think organizations should consider in the area of generative AI:
|DO spend time getting to understand these AIs before using them for work||DON’T leap directly into using these tools for critical work purposes|
|DO be careful about what you put into a prompt||DON’T share anything you wouldn’t want shared publicly|
|DO always read over and fact-check any text that an AI generates if it is being used for work purposes||DON’T assume you’re getting an accurate answer, even if you’re getting a link to a source|
|DO use your own expertise (or that of others) when evaluating any suggestions from an AI||DON’T assume these AIs are unbiased. They are trained on human data, which tends to have bias baked in.|
|DO develop guardrails, guidelines and ethical principles||DON’T go full laissez faire|
|DO continue to use calculators, spreadsheets and other trusted calculation tools||DON’T rely generative AI for calculation for now unless you have guarantees from a vendor; even then, test the system|
|DO continue to use legal counsel and trusted resources for understanding legislation, regulation, etc.||DON’T take any legal advice from an AI at face value|
|DO careful analysis of any tasks and jobs being considered for automation||DON’T assume these AIs can replace any tasks or positions until you and others have done your due diligence|
|DO train employees on both the ethical and practical uses of generative AIs once these are well understood||DON’T make everyone learn all on their own with no discussion or advice|
|DO start looking for or developing AI expertise, considering the possibility (for example) of a Chief AI Officer position||DON’T assume that today’s situation won’t change; things are going to continue to evolve quickly|