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AI at Work – Helping or Hindering?

Is AI beginning to show up in your job? Are you ready for more of it to come?

How prepared are your team members? How well informed is your manager? What about the expectations of senior leaders at your organization?

What, if anything, can you do about any of it?

AI at Work

One of my earliest experiences with “AI at Work” was some time ago, while working on a marketing and sales automation project that was utilizing machine learning services. The owner of the company was so impressed by the results – and this was over half a decade ago – that he called me in to ask if I wanted to help with a special project.

What was it? Basically, it amounted to automating one of his departments out of a job.

I thanked him for the opportunity but graciously declined.


Not because I’m anti-AI, or because I’m afraid of change, or because it wasn’t possible.

No, I declined because NO ONE at the company was anywhere near being prepared for such a shift.

First off, the employees themselves had no idea. But it wasn’t just about them – it was also about everyone that interacts with them, customer included. It was also clear to me that the owner himself was not prepared on any level for what would be the inevitable ripple effects of such a thing.

Fast forward to where we’re at today, and I am not entirely sure how much better prepared most people are for what we are already experiencing in our personal lives let alone the changes happening so quickly in our work situations.

For example, I was on a team meeting recently where a task list was shared with the group. These were tasks being assigned now to all in attendance. When asked where the list originated, the one sharing it proudly stated he copied it directly from ChatGPT, while proudly exclaiming “I’m not smart enough to come up with this”.

So either way you look at it – this is a strange turn of events. Either this group of highly experienced professionals was being assigned work directly from a chatbot, or it was being assigned work by someone clearly stating he himself is not intelligent enough to have come up with the list.

In both cases, the element that seemed completely absent – understanding. AI can mimic understanding, but can we say that it actually understands anything?

Many on the call appeared to be impressed by all of this. Then again, there seems to be some degree of social pressure to be rather ra ra about this stuff.

Indeed, I know plenty of people in different professions who seem to think that AI is going to usher in some sort of new golden age for humanity.

So what do you do if you are NOT so thrilled about a mindless disembodied chatbot assigning you work? What if you do not foresee a golden age for humanity in the works, but instead, you see a less human and less humane workplace, career path, and …,

Who can you even talk to about these things?

After all, you don’t have to be a luddite to have concerns.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

There are endless stories we could review here that shine a light on the very mixed state of affairs with the AI rollout happening all around us.

Did you catch the story about the simulation involving an armed AI drone that opted to take out its human operator so as not to be constrained by their commands? Did this really happen, seems we’ll never know…

See: An Air Force Colonel Said a Simulated AI Drone Killed Its Operator, But the Service Is Denying It – Popular Mechanics

Many people have heard about how ChatGPT can pass the bar exam. I wonder how many of those also know about the case of the lawyer facing sanctions after he used ChatGPT to write a brief riddled with fake citations?

Despite all of the hype and investment money pouring into AI, there also remains this pesky, well known but poorly understood problem of hallucinations.

As a friend of mine pointed out, this is an odd way to refer to an outright error.

After all, imagine the interview process if your resume contained the disclaimer that you have a “hallucination” problem.

Maybe next time someone reports a bug in the software we develop at work, we can just call it a hallucination and move on?

Parallels between the AI Hype and Toxic Positivity

In the world of personal development, there’s this tendency for some to get wrapped around the pole of positivity to the degree that no mention of anything even potentially negative is allowed. They lose track of the core and fundamental principles of balance… of how there would be no dark without light.

Indeed, contrasting experiences are the very way we evolve and grow, so imagine what happens when a person attempts to block out all thoughts and emotions that are deemed “negative”.

Despite the obvious risks and challenges we are facing as AI is rolled out in all areas of our lives, I am already experiencing this same toxic positivity at times in the workplace when it comes to AI.

There’s an emerging mindset that seems to believe that no matter how much harm may occur due to us racing ahead with AI, the ends justify the means. Because obviously (to some), the future will be better once we can overcome reliance on our flawed human judgements and limited human brains.

So to speak of anything other than the positives is to speak against the tribe.

And of course, as with the polarization we see in politics and elsewhere, it exists here as well. There are others that are quite sure that AI will be the end of us all. And soon!

So what are we dealing with here? In a word – belief systems.

These are all beliefs, not facts or inevitabilities:

  • AI is better than humans
  • For example, doctors make mistakes, so AI doctors will save lives (let’s just forget about said hallucination problem)
  • It is inevitable that AI will take over everything
  • Humans will be rendered useless in the future (i.e. we have no intrinsic worth or value outside of what we do to generate revenue for some other entity?)
  • Humans are nothing by violent consumers of natural resources so AI will destroy us at the first opportunity it gets

These may sound a bit silly when written out in plain English, but this highlights the real problem — many are simply not great at understanding their core beliefs or recognizing them as such, let alone being able to articulate them and share them transparently.

I know some awesome, intelligent people that look down on others for their beliefs while maintaining some of the above bullet points as self-evident facts of life (in their own minds).

What’s missing here? Balance.

As with politics, the only balance we seem to get is through dumbed-down, polarizing and extreme viewpoints: “AI Good” vs “AI Bad”.

This is certainly NOT the case with all involved. Yet this IS what seems to bubble up through the media. And that has a big effect, shaping what many end up believing is true.

The Power of Belief

Don’t underestimate the power of belief.

Belief is the real currency of life. So much so that our entire economic system is based upon it.

Your beliefs drive your every choice and action. What you believe about your day and your tomorrow is what determines how you organize your life.

The only question is whether or not you are consciously aware of your beliefs. Or if you even want to be aware in the first place.

What does this have to do with AI at Work? Why does this matter?

The biggest reason to bring this up now is to show you how powerful a role YOUR beliefs play in your life.

If you hold a simplistic view that “AI is better than humans”, how might this affect you when assessing changes in your role? What if you decide to leave and look for a new job, how might this belief affect your choices? How might it affect how you show up in your interviews?

Many are adopting the “AI is great! Can’t wait” belief system. Maybe that will serve them well in the short run, but what about the bigger picture?

What you believe here matters. And you get to choose.

You may not be the author of the Human / AI story, but you are 100% the story teller of your human experience as we move through these changing times.

So what will that story be? One of living life on autopilot and going with the flow? Or a story about thoughtful navigation, and adapting while staying true to your values so that you can still do the work you came here to do?

What Can You Do About Any of This?

Whenever you are evaluating what you can do about a given situation or event, it can be helpful to stay focused on your spheres of influence. The biggest sphere of influence any of us has is ourselves – our intentions, choices, and actions.

Can you change how your company is utilizing AI in the workplace? Maybe… but even then, I still say that the most effective place to start is with yourself.

Get Clear About What You Believe and Why

What are your formative experiences with regards to technology and AI? What have you learned since? Be on the lookout for conflicting beliefs – we all have them, and they are a complete energy drain.

Get Super Clear About Your Top 3 Values & Never Waiver

What matters most to you? Are you walking the talk? Life is so much easier when you are acting in alignment with your values and beliefs.

Assess Your Current Physical, Emotional, Mental, & Spiritual Practices

Do you work out, meditate, or pray regularly? Do you have mindful conscious mealtimes? Do you worry and fret a lot? Call them what you want – daily habits or practices… the key is to get honest with yourself. Look for gaps and opportunities. Make small changes to right the ship before you crash.

Choose Wisely

Choose to invest your attention and energy into those things you actually believe without inner conflict. Invest in directions and opportunities that align with your values. It’s like driving downhill — you’ll get a lot more mileage for your effort.

If you opt to give any of the above suggestions a try, I strongly encourage you to consider doing so in writing or to speak these things out loud.

If you simply try to think to yourself – “these are my values”, trust me — your mind will take every shortcut imaginable. It’s quite remarkable what can happen when you begin externalizing even the simplest of things that swirl around in the constant stream of noise going on in the mind.

So jot it down, talk with a friend, or even better – find a great coach to work with on these things.

Navigate Change Coaching

How does one go about finding a great coach? Ah, now there’s a challenge. If only AI could help us! Maybe someone will figure that out, but for now, it comes down to some mix of who you know, followed by searching and serendipity.

Working with me might be a great option for you IF…

If you have a clear sense that you want a change. Maybe your role is changing. Maybe you are dealing with a difficult coworker or manager, and want to have more harmony in your job. Or perhaps you’re looking to change roles or organizations altogether. You don’t have to have a clear goal or endpoint in mind to begin the journey, but you do need to have a clear sense that change is in order.

If you can handle shaking things up before you get shook. Can you handle potential disruptions to your typical way of thinking and believing? Sometimes you have to shake things up to see how they settle. The very nature of growth involves some degree of awkwardness. Some things may need to break down for stronger and more conscious beliefs and values to take their place.

If you are willing to experiment and develop new practices. Are you willing to assess your current habits and practices? Get honest about what’s working and what’s not? Develop new practices wherever you may have gaps?

If the timing is right. I wouldn’t characterize this work as easy. And it will change your life. But let’s face it – your life is going to change either way. The question is – do you want to be tossed around by the winds of change, or consciously choose the direction you’ll fly regardless of what is swirling around outside of you on any given day?

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