The rise of AI – what does it mean for your business?

A quick browse of any news or social media channel in the past few months will show a number of conversations about the prevalence and increasing quality of AI. This has raised concerns ranging from legal and copyright issues to safeguarding of vulnerable end-users and with standards and areas of utilisation constantly changing it can be difficult to separate the genuine risks and benefits from less-informed assumptions.

Where are we now?

Companies have been utilising AI for a number of years now in a limited capacity. AI chatbots have long been a popular option for initial customer support help desks. While relatively easy to write and financially favourable to a fully staffed phone line, they can only follow through pre-set scripted options and responses and are not particularly intuitive or helpful for the less technologically literate or those with a more complex issue.

Where are we headed?

The introduction of conversational AI chatbots such as ChatGPT and more recently Google’s BARD have dramatically increased the purposes that people can easily use AI for. Unlike their predecessors, these bots are capable of generating original written content and responding to perceived keywords in their received input. The need for ethical AI practices has greatly increased in line with how convincing these products and the content they create are.

There are still limitations to what AI can achieve. While capable of writing short and long-form content convincingly, they cannot generate the level of insight comparable to a subject expert. In terms of more formal writing, they can search for key terms in material accessible online and quote from them, but for the most part cannot cite their sources. Google’s BARD is capable of limited source citation, but this is not as detailed as something human generated and would not be possible for all information sources. There are a number of business sectors (particularly in creative industries) who have raised concerns over this in relation to the risk of copyright infringement.

AI copywriters are also incapable of forming judgements on the quality or relevance of sources past that of an SEO-based algorithm – everything encountered, and therefore everything utilised to inform AI generated writing, is equally relevant and equally valuable. And while they can ascertain which existing arguments are more prevalent, they cannot offer new interpretations or insights themselves.

Is it worth it?

Ultimately, whether AI is useful depends on what you want it to do. The human connection is something which is still valued and should not be underestimated. Once set up AI can be cheaper to maintain than a human equivalent, but currently there is not the same level of sophistication as a human field expert. With the rapid changes and improvements happening in this field though, it is definitely one to watch. 

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