ChatGPT is all we can seemingly talk about nowadays, and it’s understandable. While STEM professionals have been debating AI for years, it took ChatGPT and OpenAI to give mass appeal to the topic and render it relateable to pretty much everyone. I can honestly say that, as an editor and the owner of a content management agency, it’s been the most significant development in my professional life these past months.
The more I learn about ChatGPT’s potential applications, the bigger the fascination. Hence my presence at an AI-focused business breakfast organised by the Times of Malta and the Malta Digital Innovation Authority. The overarching theme – AI: threat or opportunity? There was a star panel, but I was particularly heartened by Prof Alexei Dingli giving some well-grounded perspective related to concerns expressed by University of Malta staff regarding ChatGPT and its use by students.
Reality is that – away from academic debates – many professionals remain highly polarised about their approach to ChatGPT. Despite the undoubted interest, I’ve yet to see businesses and educators employ it as part of a concerted, longterm strategy. This is true not only at an individual level, but at a national and global level. While the technology is still very much in its infancy, the end-game can only be naturalisation within the educational and professional spheres. Here are four ways we need to be doing this sooner, rather than later.
- Integrating ChatGPT within the eduational framework – Have we started looking at how to reframe the curriculum and examination models to include this new reality? When will we start equipping young students with the knowledge to use this tool ethically and to its best potential? A friend of mine recently revealed that the school her nine-year-old attends has placed a blanket ban on ChatGPT, including for research purposes. I’m not quite sure how this approach is considered useful in the context of the different realities the next generations will be operating in.
- Reshaping roles to maximise human resources’ productivity – Many employers view ChatGPT as an opportunity, and rightly so. But the approach is very much that of picking low-hanging fruit, rather than investing in ways it can maximise the productivity of a company’s human resources. One very basic example that I encounter daily in my professional life is related to ChatGPT and content creation. Scrapping your content department to create a series of uniform blogs that Google’s algorithms will penalise is one short-sighted way of saving a few bucks. But empowering your content department to harness ChatGPT and implement a content calendar more efficiently is probably a more profitable longterm strategy.
- Leveraging ChatGPT for skill augmentation – No matter what sector you work in, marketable skills are a must in today’s world. ChatGPT training can be the missing link for professionals who feel that they need skill augmentation but aren’t sure how to achieve it. I’m not talking about Chat GPT Prompt Engineers which, while being the latest career buzzword, remains more a case of wishful thinking rather than an actual employment option. You don’t need to be a Prompt Whisperer to benefit from training in Open-AI. Much as public speaking and business writing courses are considered a standard part of our professional training, it’s time to give the same treatment to ChatGPT.
- Formalising discussions about threats and pitfalls – Yes, I used the word ‘threats’. Because, much like any other great thing, ChatGPT can indeed be a threat if used without a measure of awareness and knowledge. It will not steal our job, but it may cause us to lose it to someone who’s better at it than us. Here’s another basic example. Asking ChatGPT to create a cover letter for us may sound like an amazing idea – until your potential employer receives a dozen applications using the same ‘professional, but positive tone of voice’. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use ChatGPT to help us create a stunning cover letter. It just means that we need to be clever about it and make the final product ours. As things stand, everyone’s just so excited about the whole thing that no-one’s stopping to think how they might be shooting themselves in the foot just because they didn’t bother to learn a bit more about the pitfalls.
ChatGPT – a strategic way forward
The above shortcomings are currently being faced at a global level and not only in Malta. To quote Prof Alexei Dingli once again, this is understandable both because ChatGPT is so new and also because currently the landscape is changing at lightning speed. One thing’s for sure – there will be a time when we will wonder why the above four points were even being debated, and that time isn’t too far off in the future, either.