Season 4: Thriving in a changing world

Zing Tsjeng Author, Presenter & Podcaster

Five ways to approach AI at work

Is the AI apocalypse actually coming? Will AI and robots take over the world? These are all real-life headlines from recent coverage of the world of Artificial Intelligence, known more commonly as AI.

As a journalist, editor and author, I’ve observed the effect of AI on the media industry, and I’m especially interested in how this emerging technology could alter the way we create content and work.

There’s an understandable level of anxiety and confusion around what AI means for workers and businesses. According to a Goldman Sachs report, AI could replace the equivalent 300 million full-time jobs.

But work experts and career coaches believe that the best way of dealing with AI is to learn how to work with it. If nothing else, it’ll help you understand the risk it poses to your industry—and if there are any potential rewards there, too.

So how should you approach AI in the workplace?

  1. Talk about AI with your managers and colleagues
    Some of the biggest backlash to AI is a result of senior leadership figures imposing AI on their industry without asking people how they feel about it. Workers should get to decide how they interact with AI—it shouldn’t be forced upon them. To avoid a workplace mutiny, have an open and honest conversation with your colleagues about their concerns and where they think AI could help them in their work, if at all.
  2. Identify the boring parts of your job
    If you want to give AI a try, start by identifying the tasks that you find repetitive or time-intensive, like data entry or dealing with basic customer inquiries. These are all tasks that can be automated by AI without much prior knowledge. Do you deal with paper receipts or invoices? Automated data entry software that lets you take a photo to import for your records. It relies on AI—a specific field known as OCR (optical character recognition) technology—to digitise printed text. You don’t have to be a coding whizz for this—there are plenty of companies and apps that offer this service.
  3. Conceptualise something visually 
    If you’re not especially artistically gifted but you want to create visual references for a project, you can use generative AI—a branch of AI that creates text, images and other types of content—to get started. AI image generators like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion can create pictures based off text prompts. However, as many artists and journalists have noted, AI-generated art is often less creative, realistic and aesthetically pleasing than human-made art. But AI can sometimes help envision something you were struggling to visualise or need quick references for. I even met a filmmaker who used it to create visual references for their latest pitch.
  4. Transcribe meetings and conversations
    One of the hardest things about taking back-to-back calls and meetings is remembering and condensing what has been said. Many journalists I know rely on an AI transcription service called Otter.AI, which processes live or recorded audio into mostly-perfect text. It even provides a topic breakdown of the audio, so you can have an overview of what’s been discussed.
  5. Talk to other people in your industry about AI
    One of the biggest worries that experts have about AI is the lack of regulation and oversight in the field. That means that businesses can play a key role in demanding guardrails around this new technology. If you have thoughts about the effect AI will have on your industry, speak up and be vocal. That way, you’ll be able to influence how this new technology will be deployed in your field—and it’s always better to be involved sooner rather than later.