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Are we Just A(i)nother Brick in the Wall?

Buzzwords. We use them because it feels like we know what we’re saying, and that people will listen to us more intently when we do. While this may not necessarily be the case when we mention AI in conversation (and how it’s inevitably going to take over the world), what we usually mean to refer to is ‘machine learning’ or ‘deep learning’. But while ‘it’ has been ranked as one of the most hated tech buzzwords (coming in at third place according to the Forbes Technology Council), there’s no denying that somewhere in the corner of our perturbed minds we can’t help but imagine the boundless possibilities the harnessing of this technology may bring.

History has a tendency to repeat itself and it’s not difficult to see a pattern of resistance every time a disruptive technology quickly fizzles from excitement to dread. Everyone was quite comfortable when ‘AI’ was a concept restricted to science fiction, except there’s nothing artificial about the realities being faced today and which we’ll inevitably be faced with in the near future. But is it all doom and gloom? Some are already fighting the fight as August 9th marked 100 days of the strike ordered by the respective Hollywood actors’ and writers’ guilds and while the central issues may relate to compensation, staffing, and residual payments, one of the areas they’re seeking to regulate is the use of artificial intelligence (or, more specifically, what’s been dubbed as Generative Artificial Intelligence) which threatens to replace their input – but are they just crying wolf?

From an assessment carried out by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the likelihood seems to be that Generative AI (which is used in the generation of text, images, and other media – such as ChatGPT) will augment jobs rather than replace them. The study (entitled ‘Generative AI and Jobs: A global analysis of potential effects on job quantity and quality’) suggests that industries partially exposed to automation are more likely to be complemented rather than substituted by Generative AI. Clerical work, for example, was found to be highly exposed whereas those engaged in managerial, professional, or technical roles were found to be far less exposed. More interestingly, however, were the notable differences that emerged when assessing the effects that Generative AI will have on employment when comparing countries relative to their general economic development and technological gaps. The results from this study showed that employees working in more advanced economies were more likely to be impacted by the introduction of Generative AI at the workplace; as well as the difference between men and women, where women in employment are twice more likely to be impacted due to over-representation in clerical classes of work.

According to a report issued by Goldman Sachs referenced in an article released by The Economist last June, 44% of legal tasks could be performed using the various applications of AI. For several years, law firms have applied Extractive AI technologies to create large repositories of documents and information from which specific information can be extracted when using prompts. Other legal AI tools, particularly Generative AI, are being used in litigation preparation and contract analysis as well as other tasks that would otherwise consume a law firm’s capacity and are now being carried out using a fraction of the resources.

Ultimately, the impacts of Generative AI will largely depend on the management of its transition into our roles. This can only be achieved through the introduction of well-thought-out policies and regulations with adequate protections and imposed ethical standards, as well as up-skilling the workforce to provide them with the capability of harnessing the technology properly. It is ultimately up to employers to guide the transition process.

The benefits of using Generative AI in the workplace are indisputable and, to a large extent, unstoppable. This means that being prepared is crucial and if you’re just thinking about it, then you’re already late. The first step in this transition process is to address the risks of Generative AI poses to you as the employer as the technology continues to evolve. Train your employees and have a framework in place to address the security, legal, and regulatory risks, inaccuracies, and ethical boundaries you’ll need to operate the technology safely and to the best of its ability.

Should you have any queries in relation to the above or would like to set up a consultation to see how best to address the risks associated with your AI applications you may get in touch with us


PS – ChatGPT will only get you so far.