Why AI is not all doom and gloom

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last year or two, chances are you’ve seen lots written on AI (aka artificial intelligence).

Amidst the angsty predictions that AI will usurp humanity’s place in the world, doing us all out of a job in the process and that we need to be careful to put boundaries in place (at government-esque levels to stop people using it to exploit others), there’s also a growing consensus that AI can help us. That, rather than something to be afraid of, it is something for us to embrace.

Research even suggests that global GDP will increase by up to 14% by 2023??. And that can’t be all bad.

I think of AI as something more akin to electricity, computers or the printing press. Sure, their introduction caused upheaval, and was lauded as the end for jobs for all and certainly for the printing profession at the time. Instead, electricity created new jobs and those in steam powered factories moved into new jobs. Meanwhile, printing presses didn’t drive the printing industry out of business, it took it to new heights. And as for computers, gosh, depending on how old you are, you might remember waiting weeks for correspondence when you had to send a handwritten letter to someone or at best a typed letter (complete with whited-out mistakes). I certainly remember having to fax things to people. And as for finding information, it was all dusty libraries and printed tomes of Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Now, we have instant access to just about all the information the world has amassed (and as many cute cat/dog videos as we can stand).

Of course that brings its own problems. How do you wade through the nearly 330 million terabytes of information that we’re creating everyday to be able to stay on top of your industry’s pulse and your business’ next move?

If you’re like most people, for the last however long you’ve been Googling – which often doesn’t net you the answers you’re looking for, just a bunch of (like a million) pages for you to do your own research. AI changes that.

AI iterations such as ChatGPT or Jasper or indeed any kind of predictive/generative algorithm is the key to getting more information at your fingertips quicker. And yes, you’ll note that I mentioned predictive/generative algorithms – which means that if you’re using the internet/modern technology regularly, you’ve been using AI for a while now. If your phone recognises your face, that’s AI. If your email helps you finish your sentences as you write? That’s AI. When you’re using Google and it fills in the rest of your search string? That’s AI. Even in our accounting software, Xero and MYOB, there’s predictive algorithms that say that last time you paid a bill at BP, you were buying something that’s usually filed under Motor Vehicle expenses and repeats that as a suggestion. Or that $10/month fee from Westpac goes to bank fees.

What we know from the examples above, is that sometimes the AI gets it wrong. You weren’t looking at the screen of your phone when you tried to sign in. You were buying Milk for the office at the service station or your email completes your sentence with completely the wrong thing. We know that sometimes we need to correct either our inputs (looking away) or the AI’s outputs (wrong assumptions, wrong text). But either way, AI has generally helped us do all the things quicker than we otherwise might have done.

So how do you better embrace AI for your business?

Companies that integrate generative AI into their business systems, not just to automate tasks, but to empower their employees to do more than they could before, increasing their productivity along the way, can create extra value for your business. And extra value for your business can potentially mean more growth, profitability and new areas of innovation.

One of the most basic things AI can help you with is writing better or difficult emails. Asking Jasper or ChatGPT to do it can save you a lot of time. Of course, as with all AI output, you can’t just copy and paste because as good as it is, it’s not you (or your employees). You will have to tailor and think about what it is that you’re trying to achieve. But you will save time. Oh and you have to be quite specific about what you’re trying to achieve, the tone you’d like to use (and sometimes that takes a couple of goes for you to suggest the right word for it to come back with something that sounds vaguely like you (see 5 ways to get started below).

AI can proofread a long document for you and correct your grammar. Just copy and paste your document into your AI of choice and ask it to proofread and correct grammatical mistakes. You can even ask it to suggest anything that might be missing.

A friend of mine uses an AI tool for taking all her notes now. Rather than random files, pieces of paper, or post notes all over the place, she types into her note-taking tool, called Mem.ai and when she wants to access previous notes and ideas, she types in a couple of words and it shows all the appropriate notes – just like a research assistant. But better still, recently she asked it to pull together ideas from all the notes on a particular topic for a presentation and it took precisely 49 seconds to give her bullet points to speak on, headlines and research pointers. She still had to craft her presentation and tailor it for her clients, but 49 seconds for a starting plan that might have taken her several hours, that’s an amazing productivity gain.

Other things AI can help with

AI can help you;

  • find precedent in legal cases and identify potential risks in contracts
  • write code for websites or indeed chat to people visiting your website
  • with a strategic problem you’ve got in your business
  • craft social media posts or headlines for documents
  • research SEO strings for your online presence
  • risk assessments for credit worthiness
  • analyse market data, including historic sales data and market trends and identify patterns you can use to your best advantage
  • optimise your inventory management
  • manage route planning in supply chain to help you reduce costs, improve efficiency and mitigate delays
  • with language translation

And a million other things.

What can’t it do?

AI can’t make decisions, invent things or be creative. That still takes a human brain. But it can do a lot of the running around behind the scenes that used to take you hours.

And as yet, it’s not future looking. Almost all AI is based on information prior to a certain date. For ChatGPT, it’s September 2021. So it can’t forecast accurately, monitor what’s going on at the outer margins of your sector or the economy and it doesn’t do ‘best guesses’, ‘gut feels’ or hunches – which if you’ve been in business for a while, you know are often spot on.

What else do I need to be aware of?

  1. The information AI gives you can be incorrect. So always, always, always fact check what AI suggests before you make life changing decisions. And if it feels off, it most likely is.
  2. Before you ask it to write your new website, book, blog, or design art for sale or anything else you plan to put in the public domain for you, you need to be aware that the owners of ChatGPT (or whatever flavour AI you use) own the copyright for anything it gives you (even if you’re on a paid version). You have been warned. Plus, my guess is that it will be trained to look for its own work in the fu Cue: cease and desist letters and big fines.
  3. As a by-product of point two, AI can suggest exactly the same information to someone else and if two (or 2000) of you have the same blog post, art or anything else, Google is likely to be quite punitive in its response. Google hates a copycat.
  4. A lot of what AI suggests comes from US centric information and more global info. The AI tools aren’t across Australian legislation or information well, much less info/legislation that changes frequently. AKA, don’t rely on it for local, legislative or technical detail.
  5. There are a host of scammy emails doing the rounds from people you’ve never heard of promising that their particularly brand of AI that will free you from just about anything and everything (and fleecing you in the bargain). If you’re going to dip your toe into the AI waters, do so with tried and trusted AI systems from known links – Jasper, ChatGPT, Mem, Google assistant, Seamless. Zapier has a great list to get started with.

5 ways to get started and get the best results from using AI

  • Start with the result you’re looking for as an output. Report, list, headline? What is your end goal.
  • Provide crystal clear instruction to the tool in your prompts. The more information you include, the better the AI will understand how best to help you. And tell it what you expect as the output – table, report, list of 10, summary,
  • Break your question down. If what you’re asking for is incredibly complex, break down your request into smaller parts, which will enable the tool to focus on each component part of the question.
  • Talk to it like a human. It’s been trained on human language, so use complete sentences and give it context.
  • Remember it’s just a tool, not an oracle. It has limitations. Learn what they are before you rely on it wholus bolus.

So there you go, a whole host of ways you can adopt, use and embrace AI in your business. And rather than being concerned about it, why not try integrating it into your systems and processes. History has shown, early adopters, especially when it comes to technology do best.

In summary: Think of AI more like an extra assistant for you and your team. But as with everything else, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

And as with all things business, tax or finance related, talk to your qualified accountant.

Of course, if you need good, qualified human advice for your new financial year planning, or to get a clearer handle on your tax affairs – business or personal, we’d love to help. You can call us on 6023 1700 or connect with us via Facebook or LinkedIn.

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