How ChatGPT is changing the way industries do business

How ChatGPT is changing the way industries do business

By SMU City Perspectives team

Published 22 May, 2023


Digital transformation is ultimately not about technology, it’s about people. And this hasn’t changed with ChatGPT.

Tamas Makany

Associate Professor of Communication Management (Practice)

In brief

  1. ChatGPT has generated both excitement and controversy for its impressive abilities, hinting at a future where AI improves performance and overcomes human limitations.
  2. Early adopters of ChatGPT span fields such as marketing, legal, customer service, human resources and user design, with new use cases emerging everyday.
  3. Organisation leaders need to adapt to this changing technological landscape by growing the AI literacy and empathy of their human capital.

This article is being featured in Special Feature: Mind Meets Machine

Last updated 13 July, 2023

Since its launch in November 2022, ChatGPT has been a topic of heated discussion in tech circles, news media and the general public. This new form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot technology has opened the door to an explosion of possibilities for individuals and businesses alike, but has also raised ethical concerns and sparked controversy worldwide. Responses have been varied, with some countries rushing to harness its extraordinary capabilities while others have launched plagiarism and data breach investigations or have banned it completely.

For Tamas Makany, Associate Professor of Communication Management at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, ChatGPT represents a “logical milestone in the evolution of human-computer interactions” and he shares his thoughts on how it can and is reshaping business operations of today.

Q: What is ChatGPT and why is it so revolutionary? 

Assoc Prof Tamas Makany: ChatGPT is an impressive AI-powered chatbot that has been trained to answer questions based on approximately half a trillion words of text represented in 175+ billion parameters (basically encompassing the entire open Internet). The output sounds like a knowledgeable human with a plausible answer to questions, but without actually understanding the stated facts nor caring about whether or not what was said is true or not.

Generative AI promises to bring about an exciting new paradigm in how we can interact with technology, similar to the shift from handwriting to typewriters and then to computer word-processing software. ChatGPT is a remarkable technology that can augment the possibilities of human cognition - for example, memory, calculations, and attention - but instead of a revolution, it represents a logical milestone in the evolution of human-computer interactions.

Although the public started using the term “ChatGPT”, similar to how we now use the terms “Google” and “googling” as a common noun and verb, we should note that ChatGPT is just one generative AI tool created by the San Francisco-based company, OpenAI. Many other companies, like DeepMind, Google, Baidu, and Microsoft are also working on generative AI tools at a neck-breaking pace and beyond text-based chatbots to include voice, image, and music generation.

Q: What are some pain points that ChatGPT can help organisations solve? 

Assoc Prof Tamas Makany: Everyday we see creative and practical business use cases popping up with ChatGPT. This includes, writing marketing and sales copy, customer support chatbots, writing code, drafting and reviewing legal documents.

Q: What might a future with ChatGPT and Generative AI look like?

Assoc Prof Tamas Makany: Industries with large datasets as content at the core of their business processes can expect immediate benefits from ChatGPT. For example: 

  1. Marketing - By 2025, 30 per cent of outbound marketing messages from large organisations are expected to be synthetically generated, up from less than 2 per cent in 2022. 
  2. Media - It is estimated that by 2030, a major blockbuster film will be released with 90 per cent  of the film generated by AI (from text to video), from 0 per cent  in 2022. 
  3. Pharmaceuticals - A recent study showed that ChatGPT could help to accelerate drug discovery, by identifying and developing new medications to treat diseases. 
  4. Other industries with significant immediate impact include Education, Finance, Insurance, Legal, Software engineering, and Manufacturing. An example would be the use of ChatGPT-4 in Autodesk Inventor which offers powerful real-time coding assistance.

Q: How might this technology and the AI landscape continue to evolve?

Assoc Prof Tamas Makany: We will see an increase in generative AI capabilities, applications and business models in the coming months and years. I’m personally most excited about future augmented, multimodal, and general-purpose conversational assistants. Think of a ‘much smarter cousin’ of Siri who can not only remind you to reach the Victoria Concert Hall on time for tonight’s performance but also extrapolate contextual information and even play missing pieces from unfinished symphonies by famous composers long after their death. 

Generative AI is already capable of designing visuals based on a few written keywords. In fact, I asked NightCafe, an AI Art Generator to create the header image of this article. I used the prompt “Create a visual about AI and work. Hint that humans are in the centre.”

Goldman Sachs Research predicted that generative AI could boost global GDP by seven per cent (nearly $7 trillion) and increase productivity growth by 1.5 percentage points over the next decade. According to another recent study from Princeton University, the top three industries exposed to ChatGPT are legal services, finance-related activities, and insurance-related activities. Interestingly, “Business Schools and Computer Management Training” is 13th on the list! The researchers also noted that occupations with higher wages and education-related occupations such as post-secondary teachers and university professors would be heavily exposed to generative AI.

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Q: How can organisations adapt to the changing talent needs of this digital landscape?

Assoc Prof Tamas Makany: Data, design, and AI-based communication skills are becoming table-stakes job requirements in the digital economy because companies are increasingly telling their stories online, assisted by tools like ChatGPT. As a result, basic resume skills such as word processing are set to be replaced with skills in data visualisation, user experience design, and digital storytelling.

I’ve had several conversations with business executives in recent months who are trying to make sense of what generative AI means to their businesses. They ask themselves how to prepare their companies for this AI future, integrate the technology into their business processes, and get ahead of the competition. Like in every digital transformation story, the solution begins with the people. First, they must hire new (and train existing) talent to be competent in data, design, and AI-related skills. This is not a novel phenomenon, only that ChatGPT provided a powerful reminder of this necessity.

One local SME, for example, shared with me that they replaced the traditional whiteboarding exercise during job interviews with a ChatGPT prompt writing exercise, to assess how candidates incorporate generative AI into their future workflow. They colloquially call this the “AI whisperer” test as an acknowledgement that the success of their employees will depend on their interactions with such technologies.

Q: Are there any misconceptions about AI (and its use in the workplace) that you would like to debunk?

Assoc Prof Tamas Makany: Generative AI has not, yet at least, evolved into an Artificial General Intelligence. I agree with Professor Steven Pinker (Harvard), who said, “There is no omniscient and omnipotent wonder algorithm.”

Furthermore, to stay competitive, businesses will need strategies that build on uniquely human authenticity.  Prof Pinker recently made an observation about the demand for human authenticity, especially how written content created by people will increase in value when mediocre ChatGPT-generated content is so readily available. A Venture Capitalist (VC) friend of mine shared a great analogy of this from the world of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). She explained that the real deterrent for people against the use of a Bored Ape Yacht Club image that one does not own is less about the possibility of getting sued (although that can also happen), but more about being ridiculed by the community as a user of fake goods. Another example is the possible embarrassment of being exposed in front of one’s friends at a fancy party while sporting a counterfeit Gucci bag. Being authentic carries premium value and builds customer trust; hence the uniqueness of human-generated content will stay important for businesses.

Q: What advice would you give organisation leaders, entrepreneurs and individuals concerned about the ethics of using ChatGPT in their day-to-day operations?

Assoc Prof Tamas Makany: Digital transformation is ultimately not about technology, it’s about people, and this hasn’t changed with ChatGPT. Because generative AI was trained on largely human-generated content, it can show an uncanny mirror-like image of ourselves, yet with occasional distortions. These distortions have complex socio-technical origins. As researchers of a recent NIST report concluded, when we fear or dislike something about an AI, we often focus too much on fixing the algorithms for their - undeniably present - technical deficiencies. However, we shouldn’t forget about the broader human and societal contexts, such as systemic biases against a particular gender or ethnic group that generative AI tools like ChatGPT were trained on.

The exponential speed of technological innovation was, at least until recently, described by Moore’s Law. But how have we, humans, been keeping up with our human capital growth rates? Have we been doubling our annual ability to adapt to the changing technological world that surrounds us? I propose that business leaders talk more about how they and the people in their organisations can grow their knowledge and empathy without getting too distracted by what technology will do to them.

This article was independently developed and is not affiliated, endorsed, or sponsored by OpenAI.

Methodology & References
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