Generative AI: Separating Truth from Hyperbole

May 7, 2024 April Hennessey

It’s time for some myth busting about artificial intelligence. If we want to encourage people to proceed toward AI with some caution, but without the fear that would make them resist it altogether, we must separate fact from fiction. People are not always informed about what technology can and can’t do. We understand there is a lot of misinformation going around about AI—but AI is not going to come to life and start marching down the streets tomorrow.

Companies like OpenAI and Google understand that people are going to be afraid of using their models if they can't keep their information safe. They realize AI as a tool is only as useful as the number of people using it, and are quickly taking steps in response to the market. We will continue to see rapid enhancements to both the tool and the protections these companies enlist to assure people and organizations their information is safe.

A Historical Perspective

Let’s back up for a minute, though. Tensions between humans and technology are nothing new. These anxieties go back to the industrial age and even earlier. In the late 1800s and early 1900s people were concerned that new machinery would make them obsolete to the degree that they would no longer be necessary.

In some ways, they were right. Those decades ushered in massive change. Machinery was a boon for human development. Goods became mass produced and more accessible to the average person. The evolution of medicine was accelerated. And, yes, definitions of labor for the average individual shifted, and we no longer needed people for the same jobs at the same rate.

But this era also spawned the rise of specialist professions and other jobs. As people moved into cities and away from rural areas, new jobs in areas such as sanitation, infrastructure, and traffic were created. This led to an increase in the need for doctors, lawyers, construction workers, etc. Humans were not unnecessary or obsolete. In fact, their role became increasingly important in terms of supporting the many changes initiated by the machine age.

Combating Fear and Taking Control

The introduction of Generative AI is certainly one of those high anxiety moments. You don’t have to wander too far down the social media rabbit hole to see anxieties about AI. Some of them are real, some imagined. We are scrambling to figure out what AI means for us. We're trying to answer burning questions like What are the dangers? and How will this affect me? We look toward worst-case scenarios like deep fakes that amplify fears people already have.

But what about other thoughts that rise up in the midst of change? What about aspects of AI that could allow us to set aside the daily grind of labor that is repetitive and mind-numbing, or necessary but not engaging? What if we could use AI to master those kinds of tasks, to free us up for the work that allows us to be more connected and human—more creative, innovative, and more productive in meaningful ways?

Instead of wondering what is outside our control, smarter questions to ask are:

  • How can we use this tool to make us more efficient and productive?
  • How can we deploy this tool to make us more inclusive and informed?

We turn the question of control around. We are the ones who have ultimate control over AI. It is up to us to figure out how to make it do the work we need it to do.

Here at Blanchard, we’ve been doing the work of exploring AI for well over a year now. We’ve been leaning in, holding think tanks, studying different AI tools, and figuring out what we need to be successful and how AI can play a role. As a result, we’ve got some exciting things in the works, both internally and for our clients.

This process is going to look different for each organization. But I’d encourage individuals and organizations alike to do the work of understanding the tool, adopting it where it makes sense for them, and leading the way in their various industries. AI is going to be a differentiator for human performance and workplace efficiency. Actually, it already is. 

Join Us for An HR / L&D Primer on Generative AI

Looking for more information about AI in a fast-paced webinar format? Join us for a special presentation on May 29. I’ll be joined by colleagues from Blanchard’s Leadership and Innovation Lab team for short seven- to ten-minute presentations on different aspects of AI. The event is free. Use this link to register!

About the Author

April Hennessey

April Hennessey is the Director of Innovation for Blanchard® where she serves on the DEI Practice Team for Diversity & Inclusion. In that role, April provides thought leadership to drive next-generation, innovative learning experiences that promote inclusion and belonging.

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