Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) has seen significant advancements recently, leading to impressive and diverse applications across various industries. Based on what we have witnessed so far, it has the potential to aid efficiency, creativity and innovation in practically all sectors, says Mark Onisk.
But, just as noteworthy is the change this technology will have on the workforce in a day-to-day capacity.
In practical terms, it has the potential to revolutionise industries by automating tasks and streamlining processes for most of the transactional, administrative work that currently limits the productivity of teams. By automating these mundane (but essential) tasks, organisations can become far more efficient and productive where it truly matters – leaving employees with more time for the more innovative and value-added aspects of their roles.
However, as with any profound and rapid change, there have been justifiable concerns around the displacement of jobs and the potential for hallucinations and bias. Routine tasks may be taken over by AI, potentially leading to job displacement. As human intelligence is displaced from these roles, organisations must have the appropriate guardrails and governance to safeguard the output.
Equally important is how leaders guide their organisations through this disruption with empathy and candour. It is important to remember that there will always be “human” aspects to jobs that AI cannot replicate – such as the ability to lead teams, manage projects or make complex and nuanced decisions. Ultimately, generative AI will likely be a “net contributor” to economic growth if leaders and businesses respond agilely to reskill the workforce.
While it is not yet possible to fully grasp how AI will impact the future of work, a recent Skillsoft survey found that 96 percent of respondents believe GenAI will transform job roles. As a result, we are seeing the start of an unprecedented need for upskilling and reskilling amongst organisations and their employees to work alongside AI.
Skill development in the era of GenAI
Businesses need to educate and empower their workforce to leverage this technology effectively. GenAI cannot replace human qualities like intuition, teamwork, and understanding. Instead, it should be seen as a tool to boost human capabilities. Investing in reskilling and upskilling is vital to ensure everyone can benefit from GenAI, no matter their job or industry.
Organisations are already searching for professionals like deep learning engineers, prompt engineers, AI architects, and computational creativity experts. Many of these roles require skills that did not exist a few years ago. However, it is not just about tech training – power skills such as emotional intelligence, creativity, and growth mindset are also crucial.
By acquiring skills that complement and harness the power of AI, employees can unlock its potential for personal and professional growth. To ensure this, organisations must take a stronger stance on training employees to use AI strategically and responsibly within their existing roles. They also need to ensure that the appropriate safeguards are in place to prevent misuse and human oversight before it has the chance to occur.
Navigating the ethical, legal and reputational challenges of AI
Alongside training and upskilling initiatives, it is imperative that businesses create, communicate, and enforce a clear, actionable policy so employees understand their expectations concerning the evolving technology. Given the potential pitfalls of misusing this technology, employees must understand how to navigate the ethical, legal and reputational challenges of deploying AI systems. It ensures responsible and accountable use of AI technology while safeguarding the interests of users, customers, and the broader community.
Some factors to consider include:
- Ethics: GenAI technologies, such as language models, can create highly realistic and convincing content, including text, images, and videos. Organisations may inadvertently create or propagate misleading or harmful information without a policy. A GenAI policy helps ensure users follow ethical guidelines, preventing the misuse of AI technology.
- Reputation and trust: Organisations using AI systems to generate content remain responsible for the quality and accuracy of said content. A GenAI policy helps establish standards and guidelines for maintaining the organisation’s reputation and the trust of its customers, users, and stakeholders. Organisations can build trust with their audiences by ensuring that generated content is reliable and transparent.
- Compliance with applicable laws: Using GenAI technologies may have legal implications. For example, generating content infringing upon copyright, privacy, or other intellectual property rights could have legal consequences. A GenAI policy helps organisations understand and comply with relevant laws and regulations, reducing the risk of legal disputes and liabilities as it addresses legal issues such as infringement.
- Data privacy and security: GenAI models often require large amounts of data to train effectively. An organisation’s GenAI policy should address data privacy and security concerns, ensuring that user data and other sensitive information are handled responsibly and securely. This includes defining procedures for data anonymisation, consent, access controls, and compliance with applicable data protection regulations.
To sum up, organisations must prepare their workforce to adopt GenAI. A well-thought-out upskilling and reskilling initiative with access to the most relevant and in-demand training and a robust generative AI policy is necessary to ensure the workforce is fully informed of the risks, rewards and expected behaviour of leveraging GenAI.
By Mark Onisk, Chief Content Officer, Skillsoft.