“Automation does not need to be our enemy. I think machines can make life easier for men, if men do not let machines dominate them.” John F. Kennedy, former US president
On the 2nd of February 2023, just 2 months after its official launch, the number of ChatGPT users surpassed 100m. Interest in the widely-discussed A.I. chatbot has been unprecedented, with ChatGPT’s owner, Open A.I., imposing restrictions on the number of new users in January due to unprecedented demand.
To put things into perspective, TikTok, the world’s most popular app by Douyin, took 9 months, since its global launch, to reach this milestone. Unsurprisingly, ChatGPT not only triggered intense debate about its impact on the wider economy, but its implications on individual companies and workers’ futures. But before we explore its implications and how to respond to this new technology, let’s examine exactly what ChatGPT is.
What Is ChatGPT?
To summarise, ChatGPT, or Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, is a chatbot developed by OpenA.I. and released in November 2022. The company was founded by a team of entrepreneurs in 2015, which includes Sam Atlman, Elon Musk and Peter Thiel.
ChatGPT is essentially a self-learning A.I. bot that can engage in human-like dialogue based on a prompt. As opposed to Google, which collates the most suitable online content in response to a search query, ChatGPT answers queries directly. From a commercial perspective it’s akin to having an army of educated white-collar workers at your disposal on a single platform.
What makes it so powerful is that it has 175 billion parameters. Meaning it is capable of performing a wide-range of tasks, ranging from writing legal documents and code to undertaking creative architecture and design tasks. So far its list of accomplishments include:
– Passing an exam at a leading American business school (link)
– Having the knowledge required to pass U.S. medical exams (link)
– Being adopted by news outlets like Buzzfeed to ‘enhance’ content (link)
In response to its popularity Open A.I. released ChatGPT Plus, a paid version that offers users superior results. Furthermore, Microsoft, a major investor of ChaptGPT, has integrated the A.I. chatbot into Bing search engine product.
This represents a major challenge to incumbent search engine leader Google, which unveiled ‘Bard’ in response on the 8th February. Furthermore Baidu, a tech giant in China, where ChatGPT is banned, is poised to release ‘Ernie’, its very own A.I. chatbot in March.
A Routine Business Disruption
Alarmist news about automation is nothing new. An estimated 5.6m U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost in the 2000s, mostly due to technology; triggering intense political debate, despite the US economy far surpassing 2008 levels. There’s also been a constant stream of industry reports forecasting significant white-collar job losses due to automation.
A similar observation can be made with companies. But it’s important to note that many iconic companies like Kodak, Xerox, Polaroid and IBM failed or lost ground due to outdated business models and their inability to embrace technology.
From our perspective, the current situation with ChatGPT represents continuity. Many businesses have already embraced automation since the pandemic to remain relevant, without a major increase in unemployment. Furthermore, analysis by PWC points to a predictable and reassuring conclusion: most jobs that’ll be lost to automation are routine (such as underwriting), repetitive (like data entry) or dangerous (for example, factory line production).
In effect, ChatGPT and its competitors’ emergence represents a wider trend where outdated business models and unnecessary jobs are eliminated. But they are only to be replaced by more efficient business models and added-value jobs. Companies will embrace technology and the composition of jobs within the wider labour market will adjust. McKinsey provides useful insights into the jobs that’ll be created in this new environment here.
Noticeable Drawbacks With ChatGPT
Despite the great hype surrounding ChatGPT, we can identify 5 noticeable drawbacks that users must take into consideration:
1. Security issues: Over half of security leader experts expect ChatGPT to be at the heart of a cybersecurity attack within a year. Given this risk, companies simply can not take the risk and put all their eggs in one basket with this A.I. chatbot.
2. Inaccurate information (H3): This will surprise observers, but according to the OpenA.I. website, ChatGPT is “not connected to the internet, and it can occasionally produce incorrect answers”. Google’s A.I. chatbot Bard, which is reportedly connected to the internet, still made a factual error on the day it was officially announced to the public.
This demonstrates that human specialists are still required to validate and intervene if the chatbot makes an error.
3. Insufficient advanced analytical skills: Christian Terwiesch, the professor at the above-mentioned business school, who assessed ChatGPT’s answers, commented at the weakness of the chatbot’s mathematical skills and stated: ‘[it] cannot handle more advanced process analysis questions’.
4. Lack of creativity: ChatGPT can only generate responses based on the patterns it has learned from training data that goes up to 2021. At present it doesn’t have the ability to come up with new ideas or respond with the latest development updates. This is an area where humans will continue to have a monopoly and where businesses and workers should focus their energy towards.
5.Emotional intelligence or individual opinion: ChatGPT lacks emotional intelligence and is unable to handle complex and unique human enquiries. Its strength is generating high quantities of content, but it still requires human intervention to tailor a message to an intended audience. In addition, ChatGPT is still unable to express an opinion regarding entities, individuals or products.
How To Prepare For ChatGPT
Clients have already sought out our expertise on this issue from a competitive intelligence perspective. WatchMyCompetitor (WMC) has actively monitored and provided insights regarding companies’ and governments’ latest updates regarding ChatGPT and A.I. adoption. So far we have identified 4 important ways to prepare:
1) Use software to capture relevant news
Due to intense media interest, there’s been a sudden influx of articles and announcements concerning ChatGPT. It’s very easy to be first overwhelmed, then allow important news to slip through the net. Replacing outdated manual tracking with an automated solution will enable you to cut through the noise and identify the online updates and news items that really matter.
2) Recognise ChatGPT’s drawbacks
As mentioned already there’s still clear limits concerning A.I. chatbots and the sensationalist headlines should be met with caution. Many of the competitors we have tracked for clients concerning ChatGPT and A.I.have thus far embraced the technology. When analysing online content, it’s important to take an objective approach when scrutinising its potential impact on industry trends.
3) Ensure you track the wider competitive landscape
Identify wider industry trends when it comes to the adoption of ChatPT. Given the rapid developments it’s easy to just focus on a handful of eye-catching developments and lose sight of industry wide developments.
From our experience, it’s best to harness software and analysts to understand the competitive landscape. Only then can you truly determine if there’s a clear strategic pivot, among industry participants, when it comes to adopting ChatGPT and A.I.
4) Scrutinise competitors plans in-depth
Analyze in-depth what your competitors are doing with regards to ChatGPT. Is the announcement a mere PR move? Are their financial decisions, hiring plans and changes to their leadership team truly reflecting a major strategic change? Also, how aggressively are they promoting these plans via digital media and social media channels?
Once you have a holistic perspective of your competitors, then you can understand if their actions are truly a commercial threat. Furthermore, you can also better formulate a strategy to meet the potential challenges posed.
WMC’s Perspective On ChatGPT
Having observed its strengths and weaknesses, WMC’s stance on ChatGPT and similar A.I. chatbot technology is that of general optimism. If managed correctly, it can be harnessed as a highly effective tool that can be used in multiple scenarios. Therefore, it will be a major net-benefit for businesses and individual workers, like other automation breakthroughs in the past.
From a company’s perspective, this will mean more resources can be deployed in more productive and added-value endeavours. This is particularly beneficial to smaller businesses that can remove a considerable financial and administrative burden that’s hindered their ability to challenge established rivals.
From the perspective of workers, ChatGPT can actually improve your output. No matter if you’re a developer, copywriter or marketer, the A.I. chatbot can perform the more menial task of writing the foundations of written content or codebase. Where human intervention is still required is the added-value component: the independent thought process component that can identify potential mistakes and come up with original ideas