AI in the workspace is on everyone’s radar right now. Whether via social media or word-of-mouth, its popularity and vast capabilities are widely touted. ChatGPT, in particular, is now a household name and has been integrated into various other platforms, such as Microsoft’s Bing web browser, enabling users to chat with the browser to refine and access information faster, receive more accurate search results, and personalised recommendations. Subsequently, Baidu, the largest Chinese search engine company, has launched their AI own chatbot, Ernie Bot, and Google has rolled out an experimental conversational AI service, Bard. Investment in AI technology is taking place across the board.

Indeed, after decades of setbacks and failures, AI has reached a point where it is having a notable impact on both business and society. The arrival of generative AI tools is significantly impacting how we work and live.

Turning exclusively to work, while the adoption of AI in the workplace offers numerous benefits – the potential to automate tedious tasks and gain insights to enhance decision-making to name just two – it also presents challenges for leaders.

Alongside Maynooth University, CIPD, and ADAPT Research Centre, Trinity Business School hosted a timely discussion, dialogue, and debate with business leaders, computer scientists, academic educators, and researchers from over 100 organisations around how business managers, HR professionals, technology vendors, and researchers can move forward to effectively embrace the challenges in people management in the digital and AI era.

Via the discussion, a number of recommendations were derived, including:

Integrating AI with Other Tools: AI should be used in collaboration with multiple tools and not for just single use. Some organisations might use AI for generic sentences. ChatGPT's content isn't specific to the users' needs. Different employees will have different writing styles. It can be quite time-consuming to go back through what ChatGPT has produced and ensure it fits the writing style.

Using AI for Both Exploration and Exploitation: What are the implications of exploiting it in a commercial sense for business? The fact is that we are probably already using AI and not knowing about it. It's an undercurrent that already exists. It's not simply that something that has arrived. Therefore, raising awareness of our current usage might add to the insights that big data is not big knowledge and that biases might be surfacing. It is a balance between the exploration of using AI for new ideas and exploitation for improving the efficiency of our existing use of AI.

Being Mindful of the Inequality in AI Development: One important aspect of AI usage is funding. How much is an organisation is willing to spend to make the products from ChatGPT relevant for their specific needs and improve them for their organisation? More prominent companies will have more funding and resources than smaller companies in terms of technology, as well as access to talent with advanced digital skills. The government needs to pay attention to such potential digital poverty in SMEs.

Developing Human Factors around AI: The use of AI also requires trust and confidence among people. We cannot rely on ChatGPT for anything factually accurate. But as an intelligent collaborative, altering tool, it is excellent and can inspire people. It can help people with writer’s block and be a co-creator – but humans will always be needed in the loop. So, the extent to which the application, the user experience, or the dialogue system affords that level of control to the user is to be appreciated.

Organisations constantly face disruptions, including the increased use of technology. ChatGPT and other newly-developed conversational AI have taken the world by storm. But, with new opportunities also come challenges and factors that require consideration from business leaders. Our recent dialogue-based event, and the report that followed, explored some of the many implications for leaders when addressing AI in the workplace.

You can read the full report here: Responsible AI at Work Report 2023