Where were you when you first heard about #ChatGPT the new open-source artificial intelligence (AI) software that has become the primary topic of conversation over the past few months? I was scrolling through TikTok a few weeks ago when a video about ChatGPT captured my attention. To my surprise, the blogger predicted that ChatGPT would be greater than Google. Shortly afterward, I felt a double sense of urgency after reading a LinkedIn post that mentioned the software’s ability to write coherent paragraphs, even a poem, in a matter of seconds.
To be honest, I was intrigued and annoyed at the same time. I remember feeling this way when I heard about Jasper, but somehow ChatGPT struck a chord. Perhaps because it is freely accessible to the public including students (at least for now).
I was intrigued by the possibility of using this AI-enabled technology in my line of work, but I got agitated thinking of high school and college students using it. As a former Adjunct Professor of technical writing and proposal writing, I was a little annoyed by the possibility of students using the software to write term papers, research papers, dissertations, and other assignments.
What are the real implications of OpenAI, especially for educators in higher learning who built their careers around active learning models? Have we come to the end of creative writing and technical writing, the same way word processing software and Smartphones phased out penmanship?
Implications to education
As technological advancements continue to replace common tasks such as reading and writing, there is still a bright future in the art of written communication. I believe educators should continue to require students to present outlines, drafts, and encourage a clear approach to writing and critical thinking. In addition, it is important for educators to focus on skills that impact how messages are communicated such as presentation skills, negotiation skills, public speaking, and emotional intelligence skills.
Only humans can empathize and engage in meaningful connections with other humans. One day, technology may mimic these skills, but I believe science is far away from that possibility. Today, machines cannot sense real human emotions with 100% accuracy and adjust communication tactics in response. These are purely human activities that are integral to human connection, engagement, and ultimately job performance.
The Future of Work
What about the workplace, what are the possible implications there? AI tools such as ChatGPT may reduce the need for traditional job roles and skillsets such as transcribing, dictation, content writing and similar. This also has implications for learning and development programs that teach these skills.
After submitting multiple requests on ChatGPT, I was rather impressed. I used it to the point that I am now convinced that OpenAI has the potential to revolutionize business and academic ecosystems in positive ways as it places viable answers at the fingertips of knowledge seekers.
I empathize with those who may feel threatened by technologies and digital business strategies, it can be scary. It seems like machines are replacing human minds, digital platforms are replacing real products, and artificial intelligence is replacing connection and critical thinking. I have great news, this is not the case. In fact, research at the MIT Sloan School of Management has consistently argued for a rebalancing, not a replacement.
The future of work still has humans talking to each other, connecting, collaborating, thinking, coordinating, strategizing, and working together.
By now you have probably launched your own investigation into ChatGPT’s capabilities, so I won’t belabor the point. If not, go to chat.openai.com/chat and give it a try. Regardless of OpenAI’s ability to write sentences and answer a wide variety of queries, here is what you should know to anchor your fears and enthusiasm about ChatGPT.
- The need for human engagement to coordinate and negotiate terms of business contracts will remain.
- The need for the human skill of defining contextual details, thinking critically, and tailoring messages to specific audiences will remain.
- The need to provide personal examples and take human needs and emotions into consideration will always remain.
Leveraging AI writing tools
So then, how can we leverage artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT? These tools can be used as a start or a baseline to develop useful messages to address real issues. Machines will not replace the need for examples and experiences that put data and information into perspective. There must be balance.
My advice to fellow educators, content developers, instructional designers, and other learning professionals, is to have fun with artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT, Jasper, and others. Machines do not and cannot replace the value of our thoughts and emotional connections in the workplace.
Digital technologies should make work easier, more efficient, and create better work and learning experiences. It cannot and will not replace human minds and the ability to reason and relate; instead, for maximum benefit, technology should be integrated with how we work and learn. So, yes, the future is digital, but the future is definitely still human.
About Dr. Keera Godfrey
Dr. Keera Godfrey is the founder and CEO of Naris Communications, a change management consultancy specializing in digital adoption and culture transformation.
She is passionate about helping businesses prepare their employees and customers for the behavior and culture shifts necessary for successful digitization and digital transformation. She leverages data science with a human-centered approach to communications, learning, and strategic engagements all levels of the business ecosystem.
Reach out to her on LinkedIn and ask about how she can support your digital transformational strategy and design. She’d be delighted to have a conversation!