Generative AI and the inclusive workforce

100% Human at Work
100% Human at Work
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
12 October 2023

AI has already had a huge impact on the world and is being used in many different ways – from content creation to scientific discovery. At the recent 100% Human at Work Festival of Ideas in New York the ways that generative AI will impact how we work were discussed. Below we share some of the highlights of the discussion between Felix Stellmaszek, Managing Director and Senior Partner at BCG, and Chris Wiggins, Chief Data Scientist at The New York Times, chaired by Nikki Humphrey, Chief People Officer at Virgin.

Generative AI refers to algorithms that can be used to create new content – whether that’s text, images or audio. It has the potential to perform many tasks and change the way that we work. But, as highlighted by Made By Dyslexia’s DyslexAI campaign, it can't replace soft skills.

“When it comes to artificial intelligence, and in particular generative AI, that’s all about putting the human into the robot,” Felix said. “It’s thinking about how can you train an artificial intelligence system to actually think and also communicate like a person.”

Tools such as ChatGPT have caused a serious breakthrough for generative AI. With one of the fastest adoption rates in history – reaching a million users in just five days – ChatGPT is causing people to think about generative AI and the impact it could have.

As Chris Wiggins said: “What’s new is not the technology, it’s the way that we interact with the product. The thing that made ChatGPT win was it was instantiated as a sweet product, it is fun to use ChatGPT, it’s fun to chat with it.”

According to Chris, what’s going to be transformative are the creative ways in which people think about using it and there are still some hurdles that need to be addressed – including bias. “There is absolutely bias in artificial intelligence,” Chris said. “Machine learning projects are training on human data and human data is full of bias. And the danger is that people use algorithms without sufficient scepticism. They conflate the fact that these things are so good at predicting the way we would have done things, with the way things should be.”

100% Human at Work
100% Human at Work

Generative AI in the workplace

Currently, we are very early in the maturity curve when it comes to generative AI. Throughout the day’s discussions, this adoption was likened to the industrial revolution for white-collar workers.

A lot of people are experimenting with generative AI – coding, entertainment and content creation. As we’ve seen increasingly in the media, this brings with it mixed results, and significant backlash from unions.

But Felix said that generative AI also brings a lot of potential for professional services too. “I see a massive disruption in places like call centres,” he said. “Agents will get their scripts from generative AI because they actually transcribe all the incoming calls. Agents won’t be trained once a month, or once a week, but now on the spot because they’ll be adapting the script based on the call that’s coming in.”

Open-minded approach

The adoption rate of tools such as ChatGPT has caused people to be more open-minded when approaching generative AI and more people and businesses are investigating what they could do with AI. But how can businesses ensure that new technologies are being introduced in a way that doesn’t negatively impact employees? Training is key – as is encouraging an open mind.

100% Human at Work
100% Human at Work

“There would be a lot of benefits to take out the fear. The human mind does not like change, and this is a change that no one will be able to stop or prevent,” Felix said. “So having their backs in terms of investing in themselves from a learning perspective and having policies around how you are going to go about it will be quite important.”

Chris added: “Recognising how much fear it instils in people, you should call that out and you should just get ahead of it. It’s a great time to empower your people to brainstorm about what are the creative ways that we could be using generative AI. It’s a new capability and there’s going to be new ways that people can apply it.”

Interested in learning more about inclusive workplaces? Visit 100% Human at Work.