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WilmingtonBiz Magazine

AI Deep Dive: An Industry Discussion

By Staff Reports, posted Sep 25, 2023
Artificial intelligence isn’t new (how long have WE been GRILLING Alexa and Siri?), but the growing popularity of chatbots this year has accelerated talks on everything from efficiencies, ethics, oversight and how businesses can best leverage the technology.

From OpenAI’s ChatGPT to Google’s Bard to the expanding slate of plugins and extensions, the landscape seems wide open for potential uses.

We talked with representatives of different local industries about how AI is potentially disrupting their work – good, bad and in between – and what some of the discussions about the technology have been about in their fields.


WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS AI ALREADY HAS BEEN USED IN YOUR FIELD?

Doughty:  “AI is presently integrated into various facets of the legal industry. While its presence within law firms might not be overt, it significantly enhances the effectiveness of lawyers and paralegals in their professional tasks. These currently used AI-powered tools are mostly predictive AI – AI that makes decisions and adapts by analyzing historical data (behavior patterns) to predict future behavior – and are typically used for automating tasks, streamlining workflows and extracting data. E-discovery stands out as the most prevalent use of AI in the legal field by attorneys. This AI tool is primarily employed to scan electronic data and extract relevant nonprivileged information tied to a case or legal matter. Lawyers use this tool to sift through extensive data pools, pinpointing a narrower selection of documents and information through search terms or predefined criteria, like dates or geographical location. Another example is AI-driven due diligence solutions. These solutions possess the ability to identify specific
documents, particular clauses and variations or changes within documents.”

Ricanek: “Lapetus Solutions was the first insurtech company to adopt AI for insurance underwriting, product selection and risk management. The flavor of AI used is an extension of face recognition known as facial analytics. The field of study for facial analytics was developed in my research lab at UNCW more than a decade ago. We are now seeing the use of generative AI tools in the insurance and financial services industry. Truthfully, when I ask groups from this industry how they plan to use large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, Bard, etc., the answer is usually the same: ‘We are not sure yet.’ However, these groups are aware that the power of the technology will change the way they operate, but it is so new that they need to determine how they will roll it out.”

Gray: “I think one of the most noticeable ways that AI is being used in the photography industry is to actually create images. There is some incredible artwork being done by digital artists using AI. Many photographers are experimenting with AI, and I think that trend will continue.”

Vincent: “Artificial intelligence has been around in the marketing industry for a while. However, the usefulness of AI was previously limited to more numbers-based analytics. It helped marketers assess and improve their website performance. It helped with keyword research and search engine optimization. It could even help create more effective email campaigns.”


CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE DISCUSSIONS AROUND AI’S POTENTIAL FOR YOUR INDUSTRY OR WAYS YOU THINK IT COULD DISRUPT HOW THINGS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DONE? 

Vincent: “Now, with the advent of easy-access AI software like ChatGPT, the possibilities open up a bit – specifically for content creators. The new tech isn’t strictly numbers based. AI tools can now synthesize and ‘learn’ from all kinds of data, from text to images to videos. Since a large part of the content creation gig is sifting through all the information already available online, many creators are turning to AI to make their work more efficient and more complete. AI can help with many parts of the content creation process, from generating ideas and outlines to conducting basic research to proofreading and revising. There are some questions about whether AI will replace human content creators altogether. Most marketers would say no. There will always be a need for the personal touch and customization only a real person can offer. However, content creators who don’t leverage AI will miss out on a big opportunity to increase their output and free up more time for other tasks.”

Ricanek: “There is lots of speculation on how AI will change the financial services industry. …  AI will drive innovative ways to manage risk within organizations like insurance. The models can take into account factors that a typical actuary would not consider, could not consider. AI will further enhance the user journey eradicating pain points associated with the life insurance journey or the financial planning journey. Both journeys are riddled with antiquated procedures that drive customers insane. For example, a very large U.S. life insurance company takes 45 days to reject a customer. Why does it take so long to tell the customer they do not fit your risk criteria? AI will, and is currently, changing this legacy issue.”

Doughty: “The newest evolution of AI tools, the generative AI tools like ChatGPT, are much more powerful than the predictive AI tools and extend beyond mere automation and data extraction tools. … A substantial portion of our time includes analyzing and comprehending an array of documents – ranging from statutes and legal cases to memos, emails and contracts. … These advanced AI tools introduce an opportunity to harness technology’s potential for alleviating the burden of these necessary yet time-consuming tasks. … As a result, lawyers can redirect their time and expertise to more complex endeavors requiring human discernment, like negotiations, advocacy and advisory responsibilities. However, these tasks – the tasks of analyzing and synthesizing – are a core part of the legal profession and always have been. Removing these types of tasks will substantially disrupt how lawyers have practiced since the establishment of the legal profession. However, this is not the first significant disruption our profession has faced, and I am optimistic we will evolve and adapt just as we have in the past – by shifting from typewriters to PCs, moving from dictation to typing, accepting email over snail mail, transitioning from paper to digital research, and even embracing virtual courtrooms through platforms like Zoom.”

Gray: “I feel like in a broad sense, many people are wary of the impact that AI could have in photography. For example, a photographer who is typically known for their documentary images, recently recreated historical events using AI. There was a lot of discussion about the danger of a wider audience thinking that those AI images were factual documents of real people, real places and real situations when in reality they were all fake – no matter how real or compelling they looked. An AI image also recently won a photo competition where the rules of the contest were not clearly defined, and there was quite a bit of discussion about whether or not that image should have even been allowed into the competition in the first place.”

(Images generated from DALL-E 2 by OpenAI, the company also behind ChatGPT, are shown above with interpretations of prompts such as “digital art image of an office worker using AI” and “digital image of auto mechanic using AI”.)


AREAS IN WHICH YOU SEE AI MAKING, OR POTENTIALLY MAKING IN THE FUTURE, IMPROVEMENTS IN YOUR INDUSTRY – OR DAY-TO-DAY WORK?

Ricanek: “AI will help to reduce costs of insurance or financial planning by reducing the human touch. Many of the processes can be automated by AI technology. As automation moves forward, it will greatly reduce the time it takes to secure an insurance policy or generate meaningful and actionable retirement plans.”

Gray: “I think one area of photography that AI has incredible potential for is fine art photography. I’ve seen some truly stunning images that allow people to create and envision an alternate reality the likes of which none of us have seen. What used to be possible only through elaborate sets and expensive camera and lighting technology, is now available to a huge range of creative people. I think that democratizing force will allow artists to express themselves in new and fascinating ways through AI.”

Vincent: “I suspect more businesses will start using AI to generate marketing content. This will likely produce some short-term improvement for SEO and business growth. But as more businesses adopt the same practice, there will be less original content out there. People – and Google algorithms – will start to see right through it. Unless real people are in there making the information fresh and unique, it will just become stale and ineffective. I think this advancement gives content creators the opportunity to rediscover our identity and strengths. Since everyone can use AI to generate content, it’s on us to find ways to create more authentic content people will really want to interact with.”

Doughty: “Predictive analytics could enable more accurate forecasts of legal outcomes based on historical data, enhancing case strategy and client advice. Automation of routine tasks, like data entry and client communication, through AI-powered chatbots, could free up time for more intricate responsibilities. However, while these advancements are exciting, it is important to remember that AI should complement human expertise, not replace it. Ethical considerations, data privacy and the nuanced nature of legal work will continue to necessitate human oversight and decision-making.”


WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS AND ETHICAL CONCERNS THAT YOU OR OTHERS IN YOUR FIELD HAVE?

Doughty: “There are a number of concerns for using AI in the legal field, but the most notable include accountability: Deciphering the decision-making process or information sourcing of an AI tool can be complex and require considerable effort. This is particularly important within the legal field, where decisions can make a substantial impact on individuals’ lives. Until such understanding is achieved, it is likely that this concern will hinder the legal industry’s integration of AI. Ultimately, lawyers bear the responsibility for their own work output and safeguarding their clients’ best interests.”

Ricanek: “With all technology there are drawbacks. The major drawback for AI is the systemic biases that are found in the industries that will adopt this technology. Without great care, the built-in biases will get indoctrinated into the AI systems. Why? The AI systems are built from industry data. If industry data has biases, then the AI system may pick up these biases. There are too many examples of AI bias today.”

Vincent: “Some businesses and marketers are using AI tools to create content and eliminating the ‘human’ factor entirely. For example, if you ask ChatGPT to write a blog or other marketing copy for you, it will. But there are limitations to this approach. First of all, AI synthesizes all of the information on the internet – even information that is false. Content creators still need to do their due diligence and double-check for accuracy. Second, AI has limitations when it comes to originality of content. Plagiarism is actually a big concern with AI writing. The software may use the exact same language it ‘read’ somewhere else on the internet.”

Gray: “I think the main drawback of AI in photography is the possibility that it could erode the trust that documentary photographers and photojournalists have built with the audience and public who view their images. In a climate where many people are already skeptical of the media, I think it is so incredibly important for photographers to be open and honest about how they create their images. As we’ve seen, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between an AI-generated image and a traditional photograph. Another concerning example is that the Levi jean company announced earlier this year that they would use AI-generated models in order to increase diversity in their advertising campaigns. Rather than putting in the work to make substantive change and to pay real diverse models, a huge company opted to turn to AI as a bandage to try to address genuine concerns.”
 

WHAT DO YOU THINK PEOPLE OR THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY SHOULD BE TALKING MORE ABOUT ON THE TOPIC?

Vincent: “From my perspective, business marketing must start focusing more on authenticity. This is especially important for small businesses. The more information that is pushed out there using AI content generation, the less people will listen. Already, the most successful online marketers use more personal methods – like influencer marketing and behind-the-scenes TikToks and Reels – to meet their growth goals.”

Ricanek: “We all need to come together to ponder this brave new world driven by AI. We need to consider how much control do we give to these systems. How do we check/ validate the decisions made by AI? And should we ever consider a standalone AI system, or should there always be a human in the loop or in control.”

Gray: “I think there is no way that AI won’t be used in every corner of the photography industry in the future. Some of that seems very exciting, and some of that makes a lot of photographers very nervous. In my mind, I think what matters is making sure that there is honesty and transparency about how an image was created. For me, the magic of photography and storytelling is getting to meet people and see places that I wouldn’t otherwise get to experience. The power of human connection and the trust people place in me to help share their story is irreplaceable. But AI is here to stay, so I think that photographers, publications and the public need to continue to educate themselves and create standards to be intentional about how it’s used as we move forward.”

Doughty: “Workforce transformation is a crucial aspect of the ongoing AI conversation. As AI technologies become more sophisticated and integrated into various industries, they will inevitably reshape the landscape of jobs and roles. This transformation is not just about replacing human tasks with machines; it is about evolving the workforce to collaborate effectively with AI systems and leveraging their capabilities.”
 
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