Almost 30% of professionals say they’ve tried ChatGPT at work

The tech is here to stay, though, and will likely become ever-more pervasive. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK – Some early adopters are already experimenting with the generative AI programme ChatGPT at the office. In seconds, consultants are conjuring decks and memos, marketers are cranking out fresh copy and software engineers are debugging code.

Almost 30 per cent of the nearly 4,500 professionals surveyed in January by Fishbowl, a social platform owned by employer review site Glassdoor, said that they have already used OpenAI’s ChatGPT or another artificial intelligence programme in their work. Respondents include employees at Amazon, Bank of America, JPMorgan, Google, Twitter and Meta.

The chatbot uses generative AI to spit out human-like responses to prompts in seconds, but because it has been trained on information publicly available from the Internet, books and Wikipedia, the answers are not always accurate. 

While ChatGPT set certain corners of the Internet ablaze when it launched for public use in November, awareness is still filtering out to the broader public. Experts anticipate that this kind of AI will be transformative: ChatGPT will become the “calculator for writing”, says one top Stanford University economist. 

Microsoft is in talks with OpenAI about investing as much as US$10 billion (S$13 billion). The software giant is also looking to integrate GPT, the language model that underlies ChatGPT, into its widely-used Teams and Office software. If that happens, AI tech may very well be brought into the mainstream.

Marketing professionals have been particularly keen to test-drive the tool: 37 per cent said they have used AI at work. Tech workers were not far behind, at 35 per cent. Consultants followed with 30 per cent. Many are using the technology to draft e-mail messages, generate ideas, write and troubleshoot bits of code and summarise research or meeting notes.

Chief executives are using ChatGPT to brainstorm and compose their e-mail, too.

“Anybody who doesn’t use this will shortly be at a severe disadvantage. Like, shortly. Like, very soon,” said Mr Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of online learning platform Coursera told CNN. “I’m just thinking about my cognitive ability with this tool. Versus before, it’s a lot higher, and my efficiency and productivity is way higher.”

The speed and versatility of the tool have dazzled many users. “I discovered ChatGPT about a month ago,” one person who identified as a CEO posted on FishBowl. “I use it every day. It has changed my life. And my staffing plan for 2023.”

Amid the excitement, researchers have sounded notes of caution.

While much of the anxiety has concentrated on what ChatGPT means in education – New York City public schools have banned its use – experts say companies need to think through their policies for the new tool sooner rather than later. If they do not, they risk some of the pitfalls ChatGPT and other AI models can introduce, like factual errors, copyright infringement and leaks of sensitive company information.

The tech is here to stay, though, and will likely become ever-more pervasive. Many AI-assisted programmes already exist, and with OpenAI set to release the API, or application programming interface, the number of specialised applications built on the tool will multiply.

While some professionals are not sold on the practicality of the use cases or quality of the output, others are convinced workers are only a few years away from being supplanted by the technology. “If ChatGPT starts making slides, I am done for,” one Deloitte employee wrote. BLOOMBERG

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