IN JANUARY 2023, CHATGPT PASSED THE MILESTONE OF 100 MILLION USERS GLOBALLY, HIGHLIGHTING THE HUGE POPULARITY IT HAS AMASSED SINCE ITS LAUNCH IN NOVEMBER 2022.
While some are using the tool to tell a joke or write a song, the clear demand for the services it provides suggests that ChatGPT has a very serious future ahead of it.
In this piece, Hannah Jeacock, Research Director at MHR, dives into what sets ChatGPT apart, the benefits it can bring as a tool in the workplace and what we might see next.
Hannah is MHR’s Research Director. With 18 years’ tech experience, she has worked for MHR in both engineering and management roles.
Heading up the research team, Hannah’s projects include: the future of work, the implications of AI and automation, and improving the employee experience. Additionally, Hannah is a champion for Women in Tech and is involved in initiatives to help young people begin their career in tech.
CHATGPT IS AN AI CHATBOT.
In its simplest form, the tool can understand and generate natural language text, enabling it to interact with humans in a conversational way. This is made possible by leveraging a large language model that is trained on billions of words from publicly available text on the internet. The model predicts the next best words to use in a sequence, based on the context of not only the words fed into it, but also on the previous words in the sentence.
In this sense the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is misleading as these large language models are not actually intelligent, but instead imitate intelligence by building human-like sentences based on all the words and sentences they have been trained upon.
There are clearly limitations – for example language models can only work with the text they have been trained on. In ChatGPT’s case, this was with text up to 2021, and so the text it generates will only correspond to information available at that time. More importantly, the tool has the tendency to make up facts, making it an unreliable source of information.
WHAT SETS CHATGPT APART?
Natural language processors have existed in various forms since 1966. So, what sets ChatGPT apart?
Firstly, ChatGPT, like similar large language models, can deal with a much wider variety of requests than the majority of chatbots available today. Most other systems are designed to action very specific tasks and will not be able to respond to any requests that fall outside of set parameters. For example, a travel agent’s customer service bot will have the ability to answer questions relating to any bookings with the agency and potentially action tasks off the back of related requests.
In comparison, ChatGPT can handle a wide array of tasks and answer a range of queries relating to many different topics. From writing stories to creating code, ChatGPT is a significant step up in capability, and is even able to perform sentiment analysis, language translation and text summarisation. The tool’s conversational interface is also important, providing human-like responses and the ability to adapt its answers to fit the wider context of a conversation.
HOW CAN BUSINESSES USE CHATGPT?
Like many new technologies, ChatGPT has the potential to drive efficiency in a variety of business-critical tasks.
Take HR as an example. ChatGPT can generate job adverts or descriptions, payslips or reports, enabling these tasks to be completed quickly and freeing up an HR team’s time to focus on other tasks that require a human touch.
ChatGPT also has a role in other business activities, helping employees to augment and enhance their work. For marketing copy for example, ChatGPT could be used to draft a first version of the copy, highlighting key points and providing information for teams to draw from. This piece could then be reviewed by an employee, who can edit the content and ensure that it is up to the required standard in terms of readability, messaging and audience awareness. At the same time, the tool can help to make sense of discussions around business plans or brainstorming sessions, taking notes from calls and meetings and formulating these into a potential draft strategy which can then be further honed by teams.
At MHR we strongly believe in the value of exploring new technologies like ChatGPT and their impact to both businesses and their employees. This is why we have recently launched MHR Labs, a new hub led by MHR’s expert teams of data scientists and software engineers, reviewing and discussing new technologies impacting businesses across the globe.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CHATGPT?
While ChatGPT is already a household name, this is just the beginning of its journey. The speed of change is already rapid – GPT-4, the latest iteration of the tool, was released in March this year bringing enhanced problem solving and reasoning capabilities. As excitement around these developments continues, it will also encourage competitor tools to be created.
However, as with all new technology, the increasing use of these solutions is starting to raise some concerns that must be addressed. For instance, while ChatGPT uses publicly available data, it does not consider copyright licensing and there are already lawsuits against other generative AI tools arguing that copyrighted data is being used to generate content. Businesses must work to ensure they understand the resulting legal risks and have fully considered the full implications of using content created by tools like ChatGPT.
There are also growing concerns about what the technology means for the workforce. Employees are likely to question whether AI tech could replace their jobs altogether. This is something businesses, and in particular HR teams, will address to avoid potentially significant problems with employee motivation and mental wellbeing.
Striking the right message will be critical. The value of tools like ChatGPT lies in their ability to work alongside humans, enhancing the work people do and relieving them of time-intensive or low value tasks. These tools exist to make employees lives easier, not to get rid of them all together. Ensuring that teams understand this should be a priority for businesses as the use of ChatGPT increases.
There is also concern that ChatGPT will start to take on tasks that previously would have been done by employees with less experience, raising the question of how junior employees will learn on the job. Businesses should reflect on how they can adapt to make sure the development of junior employees is not impacted in this way, perhaps instead training them in how to get the most out of these tools to maximise their benefits.
However, the hype around ChatGPT is not without reason. The technology is capable of extraordinary things, and this truly is a tool that has the potential to transform the way we work, bringing significant benefits to both business leaders and their teams.