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HomeTechGenerative AI isn't the answer to all your business needs

Generative AI isn’t the answer to all your business needs


I am a writer. That means many of my fellow writer friends are feeling sick about losing their jobs. Indeed, no one will say, “We fired people because we could replace them ChatGPT for $20 per month.

But that is actually already happening.

I’m worried about this too – but I’m not sweating bullets about it just yet.

Why? Because ChatGPT writes worthless non-fiction from now on. Of course, that doesn’t stop publishers from using it. But readers are starting to notice something is wrong, they’re complaining that the “how-to” story they just read has turned into a “how-not” story or that one AI-generated piece is one of the people quoted in it are dead – while they are very much alive.


I’m not a Luddite about ChatGPT and other generative AI programs like google bard and the recently unveiled Meta LLaMA. At the moment, however, they are still pretty shoddy.

Tomorrow may be a different story. But in fact, I expect them to be pretty good within a year or two and excellent by the end of the decade.

However, if you plan on relying on a general AI to deliver quality work for now, you’re asking for trouble.

Sure, the technology can be useful. For example, I wouldn’t hesitate to enter the transcription of a speech — transcribed by yet another AI program, the excellent Otter.ai – in ChatGPT and tell it to summarize. That makes sense.

I’m not asking ChatGPT to write something new. I’ll just let it take what’s in front of it and make a decent summary.

What ChatGPT can not what you can do is give context to what you are feeding.

That’s where people like me come in. In areas where I’m an expert, like Linux, open-source software, and cloud computing, I can take that summary and explain where the speaker got it wrong or didn’t mention that their “great new discovery” had been tried before by a rival company. You get the idea.

Or take Otter.ai for that matter. It does a good job, but doesn’t do as well as an expert human transcriber. So if you need the best possible transcription, say for a legal assignment, you don’t want to rely on that.

Let’s look at another example of AI that isn’t as polished as we’d like or fear. The Wall Street Journal recently published a story about HomeServe is Charlie. This is an AI powered virtual agent used in HomeServe‘s call centers to “answer 11,400 calls a day, route them to the right departments, process claims and schedule repair appointments.”

It does this by using the usual AI tricks and then whispering answers into the agent’s ears or displaying his comments on their screens. That can be very useful.

It can also be really annoying.

For example, if someone calls to request a repair, they don’t want – oh how they don’t want – an enrollment game.

Of course, it makes sense for Charlie to handle the more mundane jobs, like “Here’s the nearest plumber to the customer’s house.” But right now Charlie is still making mistakes.

Seems like management loves it, but the cops…not so much. The good guys in particular don’t want Charlie to put them second. And they really don’t want Charlie judging their performance.

Can’t say I blame them. Some people are under the illusion that AI programs are objective and not subject to bias. That’s so not true. Besides being often completely wrong about facts, ChatGPT has also responded with sexist, racist, and offensive comments.

We are still a long way from solving these problems.

Right now everyone is so excited about AI that they can’t stop using it to solve every possible problem. So they try it out, and people love it at first because they’re new and save money.

However, over time, your customers realize that what they are getting now is worse than what they were getting before.

Yes, you may have saved some costs. Good for you! But you also alienate the people who gave you money. This will not end well.

Used properly, AI can be useful even at a relatively early stage. However, don’t think this is the answer to all your current problems.

Use it to suggest answers to your call center agents. Use it to complement your writers. This way you can both benefit from AI while avoiding the traps lurking for your less wary competitors.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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