ChatGPT ‘a big leap forward’ but carries risk for business users
ChatGPT represents a ‘big leap forward’ but has serious limitations at its present stage of development, and therefore carries inherent risks for business users, says digital expert Neil Jackson.
He says that, while the new natural language chatbot developed by OpenAI can be effectively utilised as a guide and help, business users should not ‘get too carried away’ because the technology currently has a high margin for error.
Neil is a senior digital consultant at accounting and business advisory firm HURST. He is part of the specialist HURST Digital team, which helps companies to improve their performance and efficiency by making the most of technology.
He said: “There’s a lot of excitement and chatter about ChatGPT, and there are already many areas where it is able to assist businesses, for example with writing short pieces of code, prompting talking points on a variety of subjects and summarising lengthy articles to their key points
“However, while it’s a big leap forward in the way in which we can communicate with AI, and is a fun introduction to the application of chat-based technology, it is not developed or specialised enough yet to be a full business tool.
“It does have limitations and it needs carefully managing to mitigate these. Users should be aware that an Artificial Intelligence tool such as this is still only as good as the model it is built upon and the data available to it, which can be flawed. Because of this, its output should always be validated.
“There is an inherent risk with ChatGPT, especially as it is given wider access to the internet, that it may not be able to tell fact from fiction, and will accumulate more errors and biases.
“This technology still has a high margin for error, and we are still quite a way from AI taking over the world.” He added: “However, that doesn’t mean ChatGPT isn’t worth exploring.
“With an engaged community looking out for its flaws and curating the data that it is processing, we can hope that the risk of misinformation and error is minimised and that it becomes a more robust and effective tool.
“In the future, ChatGPT will get better and better as its dataset is refined and expanded, and its processing power is increased.”
Neil’s comments come as two major players in the tech sector – Microsoft and Google – push forward with their development of Chat AI-based products.
“Microsoft has made further investment into ChatGPT and wants to integrate it fully into its products. This is going to impact in two major areas,” he said.
“For web browsing, Microsoft is adding ChatGPT’s functionality into Bing and Edge and this move may help it to break up Google’s search dominance. Microsoft is also looking to make the AI capability available across its Office products and allow it to be added to apps and other services.
“Google has announced its own chatbot, called Bard – seemingly to fight off Microsoft’s push for search engine supremacy. Bard has been given access to Google’s massive data collection and will be utilising the entirety of the internet. This is likely to mean it will have a wider breadth of knowledge that is much more up-to-date, but has all the risk associated with an unmoderated dataset.”
Neil urged people who decide to use ChatGPT for their business to harness it with their own critical thinking and expertise on top. He put ChatGPT to the test by setting up an account of his own.
“Its content creation is far too general at present. It’s a good prompt in certain instances, for example if you are looking for some talking points for a seminar, and you can mould it to develop certain themes,” he said.
“However, because it is not yet tailored for business, it cannot tell you where you can make improvements specifically suited to your company’s requirements.
“If you asked it to identify ways in which you can refine your own business processes, it may come up with some good things, but it might try to make up something which is nonsense. It could confidently lead you down the wrong path.
“It can analyse large volumes of data very quickly and find novel ways to present the information requested of it, but it is not thinking for itself, because everything is based on its dataset.
“ChatGPT doesn’t have the expertise to understand nuances. It lacks the human experience of what works or fails in a particular business based on the personnel or operational methods.”
Neil asked ChatGPT how it was best placed to assist businesses and it gave several examples, including content creation, language translation, business processing such as data entry, and report generation.
However, it acknowledged in its response that its data has been trained on many biases and stereotypes and that it lacks the ‘common sense understanding of the world that humans possess’.
Neil said that, once ChatGPT can be focused and trained on a company’s unique data, it will become more effective for businesses.
“It will be able to help with automation of process, querying data with natural language, as well as dealing directly with customers and suppliers. However, this will require a company’s data to be well-prepared and extremely secure,” he added.
He said the chatbot can be creative – he asked it to write a Shakespearian sonnet about cashflow, and it came up with the following:
“Cashflow, the lifeblood of commerce.
With steady flow, doth keep our hearts aglow:
A bountiful stream, a never-ending source,
That keeps our businesses alive and growing.
Like gentle rain that falls upon the earth,
Cashflow doth nourish, help our wealth to grow:
And in our hands, like magic, turns to gold,
A treasure, ever-flowing, never-dying.
But woe to those who let it slip away.
And fail to keep the cashflow flowing strong:
For like a river, when its flow doth slow,
It dries up fast, and takes our wealth along.
So let us guard it well, and keep it true,
For cashflow is the key to wealth anew.
Neil also pointed out that ChatGPT can accidentally give some ‘comically bad’ answers. One Twitter user posted that they had asked it to name which mammal lays the largest eggs, and its answer was the elephant. Neil suggested it had got confused with the extinct elephant bird.
He advised business users seeking to become market leaders in their field by being innovative to beware of placing too much reliance on the chatbot.
“If you do rely on ChatGPT, you’ll get what everyone else has. Business users should not get too carried away. Be patient, and once it is developed further it will be of more use,” he said.
“AI is becoming more and more prevalent in the business world but, in order to utilise it effectively, you may need to clean up your data and management information to make sure they are in tip-top shape, and to look at your systems and processes to see how AI can best help you. If your data, systems and processes are not fully prepared, introducing AI into your business would provide very little benefit.”