Teamland is always on the hunt for games that will surprise its clients.
The Toronto-based events provider works with some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley and beyond, engaging their staff in remote and in-person activities.
“We’re always looking to create new, interesting team-building events,” says Najeeb Khan, Teamland’s head of events, who says music-themed activities are often a hit. The company was already using artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as image-generating software, and then it started looking for ways to incorporate them into its products. “There’s AI we’re using, like Dall-E,” he explains, “so why not connect them?”
Last month Teamland introduced “Sound Off,” a team-building event that challenges participants to guess a song lyric or a rhyming prompt used to generate images on screen. Many of those images are derived from Dall-E, an AI image-generation platform.
It’s just one of several generative AI tools that create original content based on a brief description of what the user is looking for. Other examples include AI image generator Midjourney, voice simulator Vall-E, and ChatGPT, a free online tool developed and released by OpenAI in November, which produces text instead of images. Users can ask it to write a haiku about chicken salad or a 5,000-word essay about the cultural significance of Dr. Seuss with often impressive results. It can even write it in the style of a specific author.
The technology is not entirely new, but until recently the most advanced AI tools were built for specific functions, they required some degree of technical expertise, and they often cost a hefty sum. The launch of ChatGPT near the end of last year marked an inflection point, when one of the most advanced tools of its kind was made available to the public at no cost. Now it appears the question is no longer “if” such technologies will fundamentally change how we work, but “how,” and “how quickly.”
“Unlike a lot of the other AIs, or AI-like things that have been previously available, ChatGPT’s ratio of barrier of entry to impressiveness of results and usability is very favourable,” says Jeremy Roberts, research director for London, Ont.-based global IT research and advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group.
Teamland’s Mr. Khan is just one of countless Canadians to have found unique ways to integrate generative AI into their work. Beyond game-show content, he says his company is using it to help produce images or written content for the company’s website and social media pages.
“(We can) save probably a day of work just by using the image creation tools that are out there right now,” Mr. Khan says. “It just helps speed our development.”
At least one expert now believes that 90 per cent of the content published online will be produced by generative AI tools by the year 2030. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. People are reportedly using the technology for therapy, sales, immigration and resettlement, and to do their homework. A recent study found that it can effectively replace corporate lobbyists. And Buzzfeed News is leaning into the trend, after announcing in January that it would begin rolling out AI-powered media.
But the technology still has some limitations, Mr. Khan points out. For one thing, the overwhelming interest in such tools means they occasionally reach capacity limits, which means they are not available until demand slows down. Dall-E isn’t great at generating realistic images of people, he says, and the content produced by ChatGPT is only as strong as the prompt it’s provided. Many who use the software for producing digital content say its value decreases with each successive stage of production.
“It’s more integrated into the beginning stages of content (creation),” explains Nikki Canning, senior manager of content marketing at Later, a Vancouver-based social media scheduling platform. “It just kind of serves as a skeleton that the content writer or the creative can build off of.”
Ms. Canning says her team uses ChatGPT to speed up the brainstorming, outlining and early drafting of scripts and blog posts, but leaves it to human professionals to fill in the rest.
“If we’re looking at just the outline, that’s a half-day job for sure,” she says. “If we ask ChatGPT to do an outline for a blog post, it can be done in three minutes, depending on how complex the topic is.”
Ms. Canning adds that the tool and others like it help expedite certain tasks but should only be used as an augment, not a replacement. “When it’s integrated into an overall strategy it definitely can work, but when it’s the only strategy it may fall short.”
At the same time, she notes that generative AI is quickly becoming a competitive necessity: it’s incumbent on those who work in marketing and other affected industries to gain some degree of familiarity with it. AI is changing the way we work – and quickly.
“Find ways to adopt it as part of your strategy,” Ms. Canning says. “Because it will definitely be part of how every content marketer works in the future.”
Not all professional writing is for public consumption, and some Canadians have discovered ways to utilize generative AI to assist in facilitating more intimate and sometimes difficult conversations.
Todd Humber, editor-in-chief of North Wall Media – a Newmarket, Ont.-based communications firm for the human resources (HR) law industry – asked ChatGPT for help with a range of HR tasks, and published the results in a recent Talent Canada magazine article.
In it he requests a script for a manager who has to terminate an employee, seeking a tone of compassion while remaining firm. He also asked the software how to inform an employee who had been accused of sexual harassment.
“This automated AI thing seems to get empathy better than a lot of senior leaders,” Mr. Humber says. “It touched on all the right notes, it had a hint of compassion along with that note of being serious, and that’s what you need at that point in the conversation.”
He does warn that the software should only be used as a starting point or to provide suggestions – HR practitioners need to ensure that its use won’t violate any laws or corporate policies.
“You just have to be smart with how you use it, and think through the ramifications,” he says. “It’s a good shortcut to help you out, but it’s not copy and paste – you still have to look at it, think about it and make sure it conveys what you want it to, and complies with any policies or programs you have at your company.”