The rapid rise of artificial intelligence as a tool for innovation potentially comes with a health warning. While opportunities to gain positive outcomes for both commercial and civic operations are seemingly limitless, industry leaders would be wise to consider some of the unintended consequences of opening this particular ‘Pandora’s box’.
In its annual global survey, analyst group McKinsey classifies 2023 as a “breakout year” for AI. In a survey by the company, more than a quarter of the C-suite personnel polled confirmed they had actively adopted AI tools for work purposes over the past 12 months. Additionally, those same industry leaders anticipate that worker reskilling and workforce reductions will be necessary as a result of the continued adoption of AI.
At the same time, the US Department of Commerce reports that venture funding for AI continues to rise. Interestingly, it also notes that within the European Union (EU), lawmakers are eager to implement a firm regulatory framework for the adoption of AI which puts the focus firmly on “human-centric ethical AI” ahead of funding plans. In this respect the EU is a world leader, and so all eyes are on the model it is creating.
Human error has been blamed for an estimated 88 per cent of all recent global data breaches, according to McKinsey’s The state of AI in 2023 report, and it’s not always a malicious hacker causing the problem. Sometimes information simply ‘bleeds’ from an organisation through poor administration and lack of data control. With this in mind, the argument for AI adoption is clear; however, employers also have pastoral responsibilities for their workforces, who may also feel the impact of embracing these new technologies.
Research by professional services company Accenture suggests that up to 40 per cent of global working hours could be impacted by the introduction of AI tools such as ChatGPT4. Accenture sees this tool as having reached “a significant turning point and milestone in AI” with the development of algorithms that “crack the code on language complexity”.
The Accenture report, A new era of generative AI for everyone, suggests that AI tools such as large language models can save up to 65 per cent of working hours on “language tasks”, releasing workers to become more productively engaged in other areas of the enterprise. This may well have a positive impact on businesses in terms of improving productivity but it also has potential consequences for individual job satisfaction, with some staff being moved to different roles or overall staff numbers reduced altogether.
As always, the adoption of new technology is far from straightforward and those looking to gain competitive advantage whilst maintaining a high degree of secure and ethical operation must take great care to develop strategies that nurture all those served by these powerful new tools.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2023 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription