By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager
ChatGPT’s launch last November brought a flurry of news coverage and left many business owners scratching their heads about its capabilities.“I think one of the important things to do with ChatGPT right now for anybody is simply to try it and see what it's capable of doing,” said Jeff Cobb, managing director of Tagoras.
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, and it’s a topic Cobb recently covered in his podcast Leading Learning. Access to ChatGPT is currently free, although OpenAI has already started a paid model for it.
“It’s basically able to generate content based on having access to a vast wealth of information,” Cobb said.
Type a prompt into ChatGPT such as “Tell me the history of rock and roll,” and you will get a response. And while ChatGPT seems to have the answers for everything, Cobb pointed out you still must know the right questions to ask and what problem you’re looking to solve.
“If you can't give it the guidance that it needs, then it can’t be the tool that you need,” he said. “It’s not going to do anything for you, or it could potentially be harmful to you, or you could get a lot of wrong answers and go down the wrong paths.”
As ChatGPT gets incorporated into search results, advertisers will have to consider what this means for navigating Google and other search engines, Cobb said. Search results will have a layer of artificial intelligence in them which changes the user experience.
“Where we do have to be cautious and skeptical around what's happening with OpenAI is how much of it is truly being developed in service of the end user and more broadly, society in general, versus how much of it is being developed to serve commercial interest,” Cobb said.
While any AI development can lead some professionals to question job security, Cobb said a more strategic approach to the technology would be to consider your fundamental business activities and how ChatGPT could be applied. Are there ways that it could make you more productive or deliver more value?
“That's not to say you shouldn't experiment with it,” he said. “And it certainly is not to say that you shouldn't be tuned into how AI could disrupt your business. But you also need to be thinking about, ‘We have this new tool, here’s how it makes us better at what we do right now.’”
The role of the strategic business adviser is evolving, and the development of AI, such as ChatGPT, will continue to push the boundaries of what the accounting profession is capable of.
“People are going to be able to go out and get all sorts of information on their own, but they may not be asking the right questions and they may not understand context,” Cobb said. “They might not really know what to do with that information, and ChatGPT is not going to get them there. But as an expertise-based business, you still can.”