How generative AI is changing our relationship with knowledge and technology

April 16, 2024

Generative AI is the future. By understanding the context of how to use it properly, you can harness the power of AI to benefit your business and your clients.

Even though the technology has been around for a while now, tools such as ChatGPT, Claude and Perplexity have been taken up in a huge way over the past year by people and businesses all around the world.

Generative AI creates original content such as text, images, code or 3D models based on existing data. It generates unique outputs that reflect the parameters it has learned from existing data and the context you provided. One of the reasons why generative AI has become so popular is because it’s fundamentally changing our relationship with knowledge and technology.

A recent report published by Deloitte AI Institute and Deloitte Access Economics revealed that while 32% of employees use some form of generative AI for work purposes, a huge 58% of students are already using these tools. The number of daily generative AI users is expected to double in the next five years.^

Peter Williams is the Chief Edge Officer at Deloitte Centre for the Edge Australia and was a keynote speaker at Class Ignite 2023. As a global thought leader and digital innovation expert, Peter warns that generative AI and other digital innovations aren’t optional – they’re the future. If you ignore or resist them, you risk being left behind.

“If you want to keep pace with digital innovation, you better get on board, because it’s changing the way we work,” he said. “There’s going to be a surge of people coming into the workforce who use generative AI as the way they do things.”

Set aside the alarmism

Many people resist new technology at first. There’s an ongoing narrative that generative AI’s algorithms will reach a point of rapid improvement where they will become smarter than humanity. Peter says the key to becoming comfortable with digital innovation is understanding the context for how to use it.

“The key thing to understand is that while generative AI can be a tool to find things, like a search engine, that’s the smallest percentage of what it does,” he said. ‘It’s a better writer than you. It’s good at coming up with ideas and building things. It’s a great colleague to work with when you know how to use it.”

Over the next few years, we can expect generative AI to become embedded in our software applications and workplaces. We’re moving into a world where all of humanity’s collective knowledge is published is at our fingertips. Understanding how to get the most from these tools means you can focus on the positives rather than negatives.

Peter said, “Don’t think of it as disruption. This isn’t film versus the digital camera. Using these tools will make us more productive. We’ll become better advisers, better teachers and better communicators with our clients.”

How to apply generative AI in your workplace

The biggest drawcard of generative AI is that it can help you become more effective by cutting down on repetitive tasks – such as writing emails, preparing training material or onboarding clients – and focusing on more satisfying, high value tasks.

It can also help you explain concepts and provide real-time data to your clients. Peter gives the example of using generative AI to analyse and interpret fund data.

“The fund manager may not be looking at the data in-depth every day,” he said. “If you receive daily updates, and use generative AI to interpret the data, your role moves beyond compiling reports and doing your compliance. You’ll get data in real time so you can understand what’s going on and help your clients take action.”

If you add your own knowledge or data to AI, the tools you need to complete a task are just a simple conversation away.

Peter said, “Instead of going into a software application, jumping around the place, performing a bunch of small tasks and going to Excel to create all the formulas, you could say to your AI tool, ‘Hey, I want you to do me a discounted cash flow for this client. Here’s their data.’ Then it will knock it out for you in seconds.”

Establish your guardrails

It’s important to be aware that the results you get from generative AI are not going to be 100% accurate. Peter recommends using generative AI as a starting point to gather information. To get the most benefit from it, use the tools on tasks that would take a lot more effort for you to do manually and make sure it’s information that you have the capacity to validate easily.

Peter said, “If you use generate AI to write a contract for sale of property in Hong Kong, and you’re not a property lawyer in Hong Kong, chances are that you’re not going to be able to validate it easily because you won’t what’s right or wrong. But if it’s something you’re familiar with, like an SMSF audit plan, you’ll be able to quickly check it and then add your own editing, thoughts and context.”

To keep client information secure, it’s possible to create a secure and private version of generative AI behind a firewall. This will enable you to use your information without worrying about it ending up in the wrong hands. Peter also recommends establishing clear guardrails for how you and your team will use generative AI.

“Think about what rules you are going to apply, what security measures you’ll put in place, what data you can use,” he said. “Consider the conversations you will have with your clients. Get them on board as well because generative AI is going to affect us all. Everyone will need to know how to use it. We’re only at the start.”

To learn more about generative AI, download the Deloitte AI Institute and Deloitte Access Economics report Generation AI: Ready or not, here we come!


^Deloitte AI Institute and Deloitte Access Economics, Generation AI: Ready or not, here we come!, August 2023. 

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