A recent Evening Standard article discusses Socially Recruited, and the topic of if AI can make you more employable…
AI is often portrayed as a job stealer, with cost-cutting employers eager to replace human labour with machines that don’t demand holidays, sick pay or lunch breaks. However, a new breed of AI tools won’t pinch your job, but help you to do it better.
From helping you to land lucrative contracts, to coming up with fresh design inspiration, to writing tricky formulae for spreadsheets, AI is helping people to thrive in their jobs and avoid some of the day-to-day drudgery. And these aren’t hugely expensive tools accessible by only tech professionals, but everyday tools that almost anyone can use.
Here’s how AI is already helping people to do their jobs better and how it could help you.
How AI can boost your business
Anyone’s who played with OpenAI’s new chatbot, ChatGPT, will know it has an extraordinary capability to communicate just like a human. From writing blog posts, poetry, advertising slogans and song lyrics, there’s virtually nothing ChatGPT can’t write.
Search engine expert Danny Richman was quick to recognise that he could use ChatGPT’s convincing conversational skills to help a self-employed tradesman who was struggling with communication. “I was mentoring my friend Ben to help him get his swimming pool and landscaping business, Ashridge Pools, off the ground,” Mr Richman said. “Ben suffers from dyslexia and struggles to respond to emails from clients and prepare professional estimates.
“At first, Ben was sending his emails to me to be rewritten. I then realised that OpenAI’s GPT-3 could save us a lot of time. I created an app that allowed Ben to send his message to a Gmail account. He then receives an email back with his original message and an AI-generated version written in a professional and business-like manner.”
For example, Ben might respond: “Sally I am starts work at yours Monday” and the AI will convert that to “Dear Sally, I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to let you know that I will be starting work with you on Monday. I am really looking forward to getting started.”
The app has had a huge impact on Ben’s ability to communicate with customers. It has also already helped him to land a contract worth £200,000. Mr Richman is now working with OpenAI to make a version of his app available free of charge to anyone who suffers from dyslexia. But you can ask ChatGPT to write you similar emails free of charge today.
Making art with AI
AI isn’t adept at hammering out only text — it has a creative side, too. Recent versions of the leading image-editing software, Photoshop, uses “AI” to wipe unwanted objects out of photos and fill in the image with what might have been there. It can even extend an image, using AI to fill in what wasn’t captured by the camera.Then there’s AI’s ability to create images from mere text descriptions.
Tools such as Midjourney and DALLE-2 have devoured tens of millions of online images. When someone asks them to draw, say, a ‘sunset over Paris’ or a ‘chimp playing football in the style of a pop art painting’ (see image above), they’re able to do so, because they’ve learned what these scenes and objects look like.Ed Bolton is the creative director of brand at Frog, a creative consultancy that is part of Capgemini Invent. His company already makes good use of such AI tools to brainstorm creative ideas for new projects or to generate bespoke mood boards that might provide inspiration for the human creatives.He believes that “prototypers” — people who use text prompts to generate AI artwork — might well become a future career.
“Creative AI will help automate many tasks while being a fantastic tool that can offer limitless inspiration for creative thinking,” he said. “And with this extra time and access to limitless inspiration, creatives can then concentrate on getting more soul back into the creative process, which I don’t believe creative AI will ever be able to achieve.”It’s not only the visual arts that are benefitting from the infusion of AI, either. Tools such as SoundRaw or Boomy used AI to generate music. It might not be capable of chart-topping hits, but if you need a bouncy, life-affirming ditty playing in the background of an online advert, for example, such tools are able to generate music on demand, to the precise length required.
Get AI to write code for you
As much as AI’s creative skills astonish, it’s also incredibly useful for chewing through more mundane, everyday tasks.ChatGPT, for example, is equally at home writing Excel spreadsheet formulae or HTML code for websites as it is Shakespeare-like sonnets. For employees who don’t have the coding skills to perform such tasks themselves, that can be extraordinarily useful and a huge time saver. Ask ChatGPT to “write an Excel formulae that averages the monthly sales figures in column B, excluding the August figures in cell B9” for example, and it will do so, and even explain how to adapt the formula yourself. However, danger lurks here.
Anyone who’s ever written code for a website, for example, will know that one minor tweak can crater an entire design, with a small change in one part of the code having a domino effect on the rest.There’s also security risks in having AI write code. When the latest version of ChatGPT was unveiled, security researchers soon found it could be used to write code that would launch a denial-of-service attack on websites. This would flood them with so much traffic that they would collapse under the weight.
The makers had to quickly patch the AI to prevent it from being used for such malicious purposes — a reminder that AI is only as ethical as the people instructing it.
The AI skills you’ll need
While there are countless ways in which AI is helping people to be more productive, there’s no doubt it also remains a threat. This involves many knowledge workers potentially face being replaced by algorithms.That’s why many have decided to get ahead of the game and boost their own AI skills.
Around a fifth of of finance professionals are boosting their own AI and machine learning skills to remain relevant in tomorrow’s workplace, according to the CFA Institute’s Future of Skills report.AI could even help to identify hidden human talents, too. “Finding the best and most desirable candidates from people who are not actively looking for a new job is one of the big recruitment challenges of the modern age, and one AI is perfectly placed to solve,” said Ben Keighley, founder of social media recruitment firm Socially Recruited.
“Armed with a wishlist from employers, AI can be used to intelligently target the ideal candidates for each job through tailored ads. Machine learning then allows the campaigns to be optimised ensuring they appear at the perfect time to attract their attention. “Rather than standard jobs boards or portals, the AI embeds these ads in the social media feeds that people scroll every day. It means that passive talent, which is otherwise unreachable, can be engaged and transformed into active applicants.”So, if you see a job advert appearing in your Twitter feed, there’s a chance you’re being headhunted by AI.
Credits: By Barry Collins for the Evening Standard (17 January 2023)