Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of online learning provider Coursera, said that when he first tried ChatGPT, he was “astonished.” Now, it’s part of his daily routine.
Use the powerful new AI chatbot tool to send emails. He uses it to craft speech “in a friendly, upbeat, authoritative tone with a mixed cadence.” He even uses it to help break down big strategic questions, like how Coursera should approach incorporating AI tools like ChatGPT into its platform.
“I use it as a writing aid and as a thinking partner,” Maggioncalda told CNN.
Maggioncalda is one of thousands of business, political and academic leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, this week for the World Economic Forum. On the agenda are a number of pressing issues weighing on the world economy, from the energy crisis to the war in Ukraine and the transformation of trade. But what many do not stop talking about is ChatGPT.
The tool, which artificial intelligence research company OpenAI made available to the general public late last year, has sparked conversations about how “generative AI” services, which can turn messages into essays, stories, songs and images, originals after training on massive online data sets. could radically transform the way we live and work.
Some claim that it will put artists, tutors, coders and writers (yes, even journalists) out of a job. Others are more optimistic, positing that it will allow employees to tackle to-do lists more efficiently or focus on higher-level tasks.
It’s a discussion that has captivated many C-suite leaders, often after they’ve tried the tool themselves.
Christian Lanng, CEO of digital supply chain platform Tradeshift, said he was impressed by the capabilities displayed by ChatGPT, even after years of exposure to Silicon Valley hype.
He also used the platform to write emails and says no one has noticed the difference. He even had her do accounting work, a service Tradeshift currently employs an expensive professional services firm for.
To date, ChatGPT has mostly been treated as a curiosity and a harbinger of things to come. It is based on OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 language model, which is already outdated; the most advanced version of GPT-4 is in the works and could be released this year.
Critics, of whom there are many, are quick to point out that it makes mistakes, is painfully neutral, and shows a distinct lack of human empathy. A technology news publication, for example, was forced to make several significant corrections to an article written by ChatGPT. And New York City public schools have banned students and teachers from using it.
However, the software, or competing programs like it, could soon take the business world by storm.
Microsoft (MSFT), an investor in OpenAI, announced this week that the company’s tools, including GPT-3.5, the Codex programming assistant, and the DALL-E 2 imager, are now available to commercial customers in one package. called Azure OpenAI Service. ChatGPT will be added soon.
“I see these technologies acting as a co-pilot, helping people do more with less,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told an audience in Davos this week.
Maggioncalda has a similar perspective. He wants to integrate generative AI into Coursera’s offering this year, as he sees an opportunity to make learning more interactive for students who don’t have access to in-person classroom instruction or one-on-one time with subject matter experts. .
It recognizes that challenges such as preventing cheating and ensuring accuracy need to be addressed. And he worries that the increased use of generative AI is not all good for society; for example, people may become less agile thinkers, as the act of writing can be helpful in processing complex ideas and refining conclusions.
Still, he sees the need to move quickly.
“Anyone who doesn’t use this will soon be at a severe disadvantage. Like, shortly. Very soon,” said Maggioncalda. “I’m just thinking about my cognitive ability with this tool. Compared to before, it is much higher, and my efficiency and productivity are much higher.”