AI isn’t coming for your business — it’s already here

It’s 2023, and artificial intelligence is suddenly churning out content everywhere you look. These days, you can have a computer create sophisticated copy (ChatGPT), original musical scores (MuseNet, SoundRaw), and even cute cat images (the highly recommended These Cats Do Not Exist).

Welcome to the future. Have you begun thinking through the implications to your business?

Whatever industry you are in, know that AI is going to change how you do business in the years ahead. It’s going to lower the cost and effort needed to produce acceptable content, product documentation and customer service. It will free up your teams to focus on more complex issues that move your business forward. It might even add some laughs to your day (, but not quite yet.

AI-assisted business is no longer “five years away” — it’s here today. You’ll soon be seeing and hearing AI-generated content everywhere.

Don’t believe me? Consider Microsoft’s recent announcement that it had incorporated ChatGPT technology, licensed from OpenAI, into its Bing search engine. That move earned Bing a surge in downloads, and Google was forced to announce its own plans to add AI technology to search.

We are only in the first few steps of this race and it’s already changing how we work in tech and non-tech fields alike. Here are a few examples of how innovative entrepreneurs are using AI to redefine their work:

Time-strapped Realtors have begun using ChatGPT to write listings descriptions and video tour scripts.

Coders are using AI chatbots to create usable code in a variety of languages on the fly.

News outlets, from the Associated Press to CNET, are using AI technology to automate the creation of rote topic explainers and earnings reports.

Marketers are using AI generation tools to develop persona sketches, chatbot scripts and even images for use in video storyboards.

OK, but how does it all work?

For the sake of simplicity, we’ll focus here on ChatGPT and other experimental chatbots like Google’s LaMDA, which are examples of large language models (LLMs), but know that all AI generation tools are built in much the same way.

LLMs are complex algorithms that can recognize, summarize, predict and generate text, based on patterns gleaned from giant datasets of existing content. Their datasets span the sea of content available online — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Once the algorithms are “trained,” they can use those patterns to create text in response to user prompts, from the short paragraphs of ChatGPT to the free-flowing conversations in LaMDA. LLMs have now reached a point of sophistication where their responses generally sound like natural, human-generated content, even when presented with truly unique prompts.

But that doesn’t mean these models are always right.

Human skills, judgment still needed

Because LLMs can only mimic words and patterns they have previously spotted online, you should know they are susceptible to a variety of errors.

Journalists have uncovered a variety of AI-written articles filled with inaccurate information, plagiarism and even outright fabrications, as the models try to construct a convincing response. Since LLMs are essentially a mirror to all the content floating around the internet, they can be susceptible to reproducing hateful or offensive language, although researchers are working hard to implement safeguards to keep it out.

OpenAI itself warns those using ChatGPT that it may “produce harmful instructions or biased content,” emphasizing that it remains a research tool.

The bottom line: Before you use AI technology to generate content, you must have a human available to interpret, edit and potentially correct its output.

If you’re not willing or able to do this, you may want to wait until these AI tools are more advanced and able to catch bad content before it’s published — otherwise you’re just contributing to the sea of bad content.

Likewise, the norms around AI-generated content are still being debated and formalized in the workplace, so we’ve found that it’s always best to disclose when you’re using it. Some people may see it as “cheating,” while others consider it a form of “working smarter.” Tread carefully and lightly, but don’t let that scare you off from trying. The world will catch up soon enough.

John Osako is president and CEO of Informatics Inc., a digital agency based in Cedar Rapids. Contact him at