Augmenting human capabilities and creativity with generative artificial intelligence

Augmenting human capabilities and creativity with generative artificial intelligence
BusinessWorld Multimedia Editor Arjay L. Balinbin (left) and Aboitiz Data Innovation CEO David R. Hardoon (right) during the second fireside chat of Forecast 2024

The constant pursuit of innovation is a testament to human’s inherent curiosity and creativity. With the advancement of technology, people are constantly seeking innovative solutions to enhance their efficiency and productivity. In this regard, generative artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most promising technologies, which complements human capabilities, augments creativity, and drives progress in various fields.

In the second fireside chat of BusinessWorld Forecast 2024 entitled “Uncovering the Capabilities of Generative AI,” David Hardoon, chief data and AI officer at Union Bank of the Philippines and chief executive officer of Aboitiz Data Innovation (ADI), delved into the potential impact of generative AI across various industries.

Mr. Hardoon shared that unlike traditional AI technology, the exciting aspect of generative AI lies in its conversational capabilities. This feature allows users to ask questions without worrying about specific syntax as it opens the door to a more personal interaction with the system.

David Hardoon, chief data and AI officer at Union Bank of the Philippines and chief executive officer of Aboitiz Data Innovation

“[Generative AI] is effectively solving the problem of knowledge management,” he explained. “I have tons of files, minutes of meetings, FAQs, and maintenance manuals. ‘What is really relevant to me? What am I looking for? How can I pull that information?’ This is what generative AI is. It’s a layer of knowledge management.”

He also spoke about the reception of technology in the Philippines, noting the country’s history of rapid adoption of technology, such as the widespread adoption of mobile phones and platforms, as well as generative AI.

“There is ultimately an inert adoption for technology and new things in the Philippines. Now, suddenly, it’s the ability to leapfrog a lot of technological incremental steps that may have been needed previously,” Mr. Hardoon said.

Generative AI-powered tools can significantly improve the efficiency of an organization as they act as knowledge management tools to enhance creativity, collaboration, productivity, and decision-making.

When asked about the benefits of this technology, Mr. Hardoon pointed out its potential applications in various industries, such as travel and finance.

For instance, he is developing a “travel buddy” platform that creates personalized itineraries based on user preferences. Another example is how generative AI can assist customers in selecting the most suitable financial products, such as credit cards, by just understanding their lifestyles and needs.

A tool to increase efficiency

Addressing the critical question of whether generative AI will replace millions of jobs, Mr. Hardoon acknowledged concerns about job stability but emphasized pragmatic optimism due to humans’ innate desire for innovation.

“Yes, we should be worried; but at the same time, we shouldn’t,” he stated.

The key, according to Mr. Hardoon, lies in viewing generative AI as a tool to enhance and augment human capabilities rather than a direct threat to employment.

“If someone who comes along is better equipped, skilled, and knowledgeable, that’s how progress happens. That’s actually how we should be thinking about generative AI: How does it help us be more effective in our jobs? How does it help us in terms of identifying what’s relevant? How are we able to leverage our own domain expertise?” he said.

Mr. Hardoon also emphasized the limitations of the technology as it only operates within the boundaries of existing information and lacks the ability for spontaneous creativity, unlike what humans can do.

“Why I say we shouldn’t worry [about generative AI] is because it is a tool that helps us push the boundaries to be even better. But, it is our responsibility to want to be better,” he added.

Responsible adoption, risk management

Handling safety concerns in using generative AI, Mr. Hardoon highlighted a term associated with the technology – hallucination. Drawing an analogy to human conversations, like individuals providing creative responses or admitting ignorance, he said that generative AI operates by making recommendations based only on available information.

While generative AI is designed to provide helpful information, it lacks the discernment of human context, posing challenges in scenarios where harmful intent may be implied. Hence, the inherent risks lie in the potential inaccuracies of the information it utilizes and the predictions it makes.

In response, Mr. Hardoon discussed two key approaches to mitigate these risks. The first one involves curtailing the flexibility of generative AI in specific domains, observed in instances where the technology responds with “I can’t answer” or “I don’t know,” signaling a limitation in its capabilities for certain queries.

The second approach centers on transparency regarding the sources of information used by the AI system. By making the sources explicit, users can better assess the reliability of the responses.

Moreover, Mr. Hardoon acknowledged the difficulty in curbing potential harm from the answers given by the generative AI. He suggested that controlling the sources of information could be a solution. This may involve assessing what kind of information should be made available to the AI system, aligning with a broader consensus on ethical standards.

“[Generative AI] simply takes it as if you just ask, ‘How do I make lemonade?’ So, this is where that difficulty in the risk of how you curtail potential harm. Whereby, yes, you can ask that question, but no, you should not get the answer. [That’s] because we don’t know what you may do with it, and we do not want to have that kind of information and know-how available everywhere,” Mr. Hardoon explained.

Policy and governance

Arjay L. Balinbin of BusinessWorld moderates the fireside chat on “Uncovering the Capabilities of Generative AI.”

Contrary to the misconception that the government suppresses innovation, Mr. Hardoon spoke about the synergy between innovation and good governance. He highlighted the importance of management in ensuring the quality and reliability of generative AI, asserting that the most exceptional technology is only effective when built upon a foundation of sound governance.

“There’s another layer that I think is critically important, which is trust and governance — understanding the path that you want to take in the context of the Philippines. And that’s the role of the government; that’s the role of a legislator; that’s the role of a regulator. It’s not a matter of right or wrong but a matter of saying that this is where we want to go; this is how we want to go,” Mr. Hardoon explained.

In addition, collaboration between the government and the private sector is crucial to fully enjoy the benefits of technology. Mr. Hardoon suggested the need for a dialogue to promote responsible adoption and encourage shared vision that aligns with the values and needs of society.

Future of AI

Mr. Hardoon also conveyed during the discussion the importance of changing people’s perception toward augmented intelligence to augment human capabilities and unlock the full potential of the technology.

“We need [augmented intelligence] to dream, research, create, and deploy solutions that are designed to augment us. You should not be thinking of it replacing people,” he explained.

His vision also revolved around empowering humans to excel in areas where their unique strengths lie: creativity, innovation, and interpersonal skills.

Consequently, Mr. Hardoon emphasized the inefficiencies of having individuals perform repetitive tasks that could be automated, urging businesses to embrace generative AI for systematic functions while allowing humans to focus on their areas of expertise.

He also stressed the importance of continuous technological advancement and dismissed the idea of halting AI development.

“We are hardwired for change, for innovation… It’s never going to stop. So, what we can do is embrace it with management, with compliance, with governance; but embrace and imagine what’s the next thing that can be done,” Mr. Hardoon said.

(The article was originally published by Mhicole A. Moral on BusinessWorld.)

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