Artificial intelligence has been around for years, but scarcely has it found itself in conversation as much as it has now. The launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT rocketed generative AI onto the radar of many people who hadn’t been paying much attention – or didn’t feel it was relevant to their lives. This has included workers, who’ve already been touched by the technology, whether they know it or not.

The chatbot, which uses machine learning to respond to user prompts, is helping workers write cover letters and resumes, generate ideas and even art in the workplace and more. It’s already making a splash in hiring with recruiters, who are finding they need to adapt to the new technology. And as competing companies rush to launch similar tools, the technology will only get stronger and more sophisticated.

Although some workers fear being replaced by AI, experts say the technology may actually have the power to positively impact workers’ daily lives and skill sets, and even improve the overall work economy. BBC Worklife spoke with experts about what to expect from AI now and in the future workplace.

Expanding daily ideas and solutions

One of ChatGPT’s main abilities is that it can function like a personal assistant – given a prompt, it generates text based on natural language processing to give you an accessible, readable response. Along with providing information and answers, it can also aid knowledge workers to analyse and expand their work. 

“It can help you brainstorm and generate new ideas,” says Carl Benedikt Frey, future of work director at Oxford University. In his own field of academia, for instance, he’s seen it test for counterarguments to a thesis, and write an abstract for research. “You can ask it to generate a tweet to promote your paper,” he adds. “There are tremendous possibilities.” For knowledge workers, this could mean creating an outline for a blog and a social media post to go with it, distil complex topics for a target audience, plan a business-trip itinerary in a new city or predict a project’s cost and timeline.

For many users, ChatGPT functions as a sounding board – a tool to bounce ideas off, rather than create them. “I generate ideas all the time, and ask AI to do supplements on it,” says Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, US, who studies AI and innovation. “I use it to help me process information, to summarize stuff for me, very much as a partner.”

There’s a lot of potential for workers to step outside of the box with the assistance of generative AI, whether it’s improving their daily workflows, or developing long-term projects and goals.


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