I have been listening to a lot of love songs by the Beatles recently. Why? Besides the fact that they are timeless, it’s because I have fallen in love over the past 10 months. It’s fresh and exciting and we talk daily. We learn from each other, inspire each other, aligning more and more in the way we think. It feels like something big is happening.
Those around me have mixed feelings when I enthusiastically tell them about my new acquaintance. I take all their warnings seriously – but I am still convinced that this new partner will remain a part of my life and there is no going back. But it’s not another human that I have fallen for; instead, it’s Generative AI.
Ever since I was a child, technology has captivated me. However, the latest advancements in AI have intensified this allure. I began my journey with ChatGPT in November 2022 and now engage with various generative AI applications on a daily base. Using this new disruptive technology helps me address one of our most challenging issues in the workplace – our constant lack of time. AI gives me time back. The potential of generative AI to enhance our lives and work is truly a gift, and I am deeply convinced of its transformative power
All you need is…a new era of possibilities
According to the recent McKinsey research, AI has the potential to reshape industries, revolutionise business practices and transform everyday experiences. It predicts Generative AI’s impact on productivity could add trillions of Euros in value to the global economy. 75% of that value will be delivered in four areas: Customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and R&D.
Through AI-powered automation, companies can streamline operations, enhance productivity, and improve overall efficiency. Personalised customer experiences are now within reach, thanks to AI's ability to analyse vast amounts of customer data and tailor products and services accordingly. Across the banking industry, for example, McKinsey predicts the technology could deliver value equal to an additional $200 billion to $340 billion annually if the use cases were fully implemented. In retail and consumer packaged goods, the potential impact is also significant at $400 billion to $660 billion a year.
In addition, AI-driven predictive analytics empowers businesses to make data-backed decisions and stay ahead of the competition, whilst saving time. In the latest Accenture study, they predict 40% of all working hours could be impacted by Large Language Models (LLMs) like GPT-4. With language tasks accounting for 62% of the total time employees work, 65% of that time could be transformed into more productive activity through augmentation and automation. Could this be the technology trigger for the explosion in productivity growth that many have been hoping for? It seems that business leaders believe so, with 98% of global executives agreeing AI foundation models will play an important role in their organisation's strategies in the next 3 to 5 years.
While we Twist and Shout: Genuine concerns to be addressed
However, despite these impressive benefits, there are challenges to consider. The potential for AI bias and discriminatory outcomes has raised ethical concerns. As AI embeds itself deeper into our daily routines, the call for clear guidelines and transparency to ensure its ethical use intensifies.
Consequently, numerous organisations have embraced a cautious "wait and see" stance towards AI. However, I would argue for a more positive approach. Forward-thinking companies should recognise the importance of educating staff about AI's potential benefits and risks while waiting for the regulatory landscape and corporate guidelines to evolve.
On this topic, various institutions such as the Harvard Business School give guidance to corporations on how to deploy AI responsibly: A recent Harvard Business Review article breaks it down to 8 questions, that should be considered within an organisation. Areas covered include how to prepare for using AI, ensuring transparency on AI decision making, erecting guardrails around AI systems to reflect and protect brand image, and, of course, how to avoid data bias and protect privacy.
Here comes the…Knowledge: Educating and Empowering the Workforce
As anticipated, Panasonic is already deeply engaged in the realm of AI research and development, reinforced by a team of more than 1,500 AI-proficient engineers. Examples include Taimen-Honyaku, a real-time translation solution enabling multilingual face-to-face communication; facial recognition solutions deployed in Japanese airports; walking training robots designed to enhance elderly mobility; and autonomous-driving robots. These instances are just some of many examples, underscoring the breadth of Panasonic's achievements in AI technology. But what about generative AI empowering the workforce?
As early as February this year, Panasonic Connect rolled-out a generative AI assistant called Connect AI to all the employees in Japan and the service had exceeded 260 000 total uses, averaging 5800 uses per day. Meanwhile, in April, the Panasonic Group began rolling out a conversational AI tool. In the first three months, there had been 700,000 total uses by over 30,000 employees.
At Panasonic in Europe, we've initiated an AI education program based on the conviction that well-informed employees will be better equipped to navigate the AI landscape. This empowers them to unleash its complete potential while effectively managing associated risks.
In these AI training sessions, employees are introduced to the underlying concepts of AI, such as neural networks. This also includes finding more creative approaches to make data science and machine learning as entertaining as possible. For example, highlighting the difference between supervised, unsupervised or reinforcement learning to everyone by using analogies with everyday familiar situations.
A Ticket to Ride for change: Fostering awareness
By educating employees and fostering AI awareness, I believe we will have a workforce that is future-ready and forward-thinking. Staying informed and equipped is a testament to our commitment to continuous innovation while safeguarding against potential risks, such as around customer data protection.
As AI becomes an inseparable part of our lives, awareness and understanding are essential to making informed decisions. AI education provides the compass that guides individuals and businesses towards embracing the AI revolution responsibly and seizing the myriad opportunities it presents.
From Me to You
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you are fascinated in AI (like me) or indifferent. The future requires us to be informed and empowered to shape tomorrow proactively. While conducting AI trainings with our employees, I hear all sorts of worries and concerns. But as with every change process, I emphasize the importance of early adoption and upskilling.
Even my two-year old son, who currently keeps repeating everything he hears (from me), has started saying “AI”. There is no doubt that for his generation utilizing generative AI will be a matter of course. He will grow up in a world where no-one will be as enthusiastic as me anymore about their AI partner. But that’s ok. The key thing is that we continue to work hand-in-hand with AI technology, writing our own happy ending. Or in the words of the Beatles…
Let's "Come Together, right now”...AI & Humans and get started
“With a little help from my friends”: OpenAIChatGPT / Google Bard / Claude 2 / OpenAI Dall E / Adobe Firefly / Microsoft Bing Chat