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New era sparks debate about the practicality, drawbacks of artificial intelligence use in businesses

The seven ways AI is changing business, for better or worse
Posted at 10:52 PM, Apr 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-28 00:52:41-04

DENVER — The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is making headlines daily.

AI is creating a fast-paced race among tech companies using automation and bots to generate text, images and other content resembling the work of humans.

“It sounds kind of apocalyptic — the rise of the robots,” said Jordan Evans, who uses AI regularly for graphic design.

Denver7 decided to take a 360 In-Depth look at how artificial intelligence is making an impression - both positive and negative - on businesses.

“Right now, I love it because I’m building my website,” said photographer Nick Holmby.

Holmby has figured out that for his business, AI can perform some tasks easier and cheaper.

“So graphics, animations,” the photographer said. “I’ve talked to animators who have said that’s going to take a long time and cost about $2,000 just to animate my logo. Whereas with Chat GPT, I can essentially kind of do it for free.”

His clients, like Alex and Molly, are somewhat excited about it, too.

“It’s so revolutionary in its ability to understand natural human language,” Alex said. “I write a lot of software code, and it’s amazing how you can give it a really detailed prompt of something, and then it actually writes something sensible.”

“This is a really fast-moving technology,” said Shaun Schafer, interim deputy provost for Metropolitan State University of Denver. “You just don’t know what it’s going to look like in six months, or six weeks, or four weeks.”

“I think it’s going to start displacing a lot of people,” Alex said. “And that’s something we need to plan for, for sure.”

So, which professions are most vulnerable? Experts say tech jobs like coders, computer programmers and even web developers are most vulnerable because AI tools can already perform many of those skills.

“Hey, this machine does a pretty good job, why don’t I use that?” Schafer said.

“I don’t think it’s Skynet per se, but as far as taking people’s jobs, I think that really is a real risk," said Alex.

Media jobs are also in AI’s crosshairs, including advertising, technical writing, journalism and any content creation.

“I’ve already seen friends get out of the business who do art,” Holmby said. “People who are basically saying, "Can I get this done with this scene?" And it’s done in 30 seconds.”

Along those same lines, AI could provide short-cuts and assistance to certain jobs like paralegals and financial advisers in manipulating significant amounts of legal information or numerical data.

For paralegals, AI could consume large amounts of info, synthesize it and make it digestible through short legal briefings in a matter of seconds.

“It’s a tool, and people use tools,” Schafer said. “Anytime you come across something that’s going to make your life easier, why wouldn’t you do it?”

But the ethics of AI in business are still highly questionable.

“My view is this is extremely socially irresponsible,” said Julian Friedland, associate professor of business ethics at MSU Denver. “There’s been no attempt to bring in the FCC or the Department of Education. To me, this is a textbook case of tech bro brazen irresponsibility.”

Friedland is extremely guarded about its uses.

“In order to enjoy this freedom that we have, it doesn’t come for free,” he said. “It means that we have to be good for our word. It means we have to be trustworthy and act with great integrity. For me, this is kind of a test — a stress-test for capitalism.”

That brings us to even more negatives, particularly the use of Chat GPT and other AI apps by students to potentially skate their way through their education without truly learning.

“There’s some line that’s being crossed here that all of the sudden, a lot of us are starting to get nervous and be like, "Wait a second,"” said Jeff Loats, director for the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design at MSU Denver.

“I just had to spend many hours this weekend writing a new mid-term for my MBA course in law and ethics that was ChatGPT proof, and it wasn’t easy,” Friedland said.

On the positive side of the argument, the advantages of AI are endless. It can help organizations make faster, more informed decisions and drive down time spent on mundane tasks.

“Realtors saying, "I’m never going to write the summary of a listing again,"” Loats said. “Why would you, right?”

That’s already happening in its current application across some industries. Take, for example, warehouses already using AI-powered robots for sorting and packaging.

AI is also making your online shopping experience more custom to your likes and dislikes. And thanks to AI, Banded Oak and Old 121 Brewing even developed an AI-generated beer.

“Ultimately where we ended up was this last prompt which is, what is the next trend in craft beer?” said Sam Nicholson, head brewer at Old 121 Brewhouse in Lakewood. “Wellness beer is the one that really jumped out to us... This type of beer is often made with ingredients like herbs, spices and fruits with medicinal properties.”

“We said, "Generate a beer recipe for a wellness beer," and it spit out a five-gallon recipe,” said Chris Kirk, head brewer at Banded Oak Brewing Company. “We were surprised at how good it actually was. I think it’s important to get on top of it, figure out the game, because we know it’s going to be played.”

“If it’s delicious, that might be a little scary itself,” said Nicholson.

“Fear is a great reaction to go, "No, we’re not going to let you use this. We can’t let you use this." That’s not going to work,” Schafer said. “You can’t put that genie back in a bottle. It’s out!”

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