Artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot topic today. Are you using AI? Do you find directions easier with Waze, listen to favorite music with Spotify, ask questions or do your research via Google or YouTube, or compose an essay, a poem, or a script with ChatGPT? 

“AI TO ROI: Powering up your Business with GPT Solutions” was the topic of the NextGen Organization of Women Corporate Directors (NOWCD) meeting on July 5. It was sponsored by the events committee: FEU SVP Gianna Montinola, MAP trustee Karen de Venecia and BPI executive Teresa Javier with liaison director Sherisa “Baby” Nuesa. The guest speaker was Stephanie “Stef” Sy, CEO of Thinking Machines (TM), a leading-edge data technology consultancy with the goal: to unlock business value using customized enterprise-grade AI solutions.

Stef said ChatGPT is the consumer-facing killer app of conversational AI developed by Open AI, a SF based R&D company founded in 2015. ChatGPT was released in November 2022 with 100 million global users as of July 2023. GPT or Generative Pretrained Transformer, is a type of Large Language Model (LLM) trained on human speech from a wide variety of sources such as the internet.

Stef says unlike software engineering, the output of LLMs feels more natural as it is not fixed, but less controllable. In ChatGPT, “temperature” setting changes the variety of response. LLMs are a fairly recent type of deep learning model that come on massive datasets. She said applications using Generative AI are rapidly maturing across multiple domains with exciting potential.  Text and codes are closer to maturity than images and video. In texts, final paper drafts may be better than human average or even professional writers. For images, final drafts may soon be better than professional artists designers and photographers.

The use of Gen AI tools is now easier. In the traditional setup, only the data analytics departments use AI. Today, in a redefined technology setup, sales, operations, product development, HR — all units use AI to simplify work. Is your company now using AI to facilitate work and analysis? Stef showed us the extent various industries are using AI: fraud detection with high accuracy rate for financial institutions, identification of novel drug candidate for treatment within days vs years with traditional methods, and in education, automotive industry, media, etc.

Stef and her team presented three amazing live demonstrations of ChatGPT’s capabilities:   

• The GPT-powered investment assistant was able to get instant access to shareholder information and analyst research at high speed.

• The B2B sales assistant answered questions to recommend products fitting for any customer.

• The HR internal mobility assistant helped explore internal openings and guide in new career opportunities. And depending on the applicant say a Millennial, ChatGPT can change its language type to match. Amazing!

I watched some interviews of Open AI CEO Sam Altman and Yuval Noah Harari, historian and renowned author, to learn more about AI. Mr. Altman sees AI growing exponentially with the positive impact of curing all diseases, addressing climate change, radically improving education, and making us 10-100 times more efficient. But he also emphasizes the need for AI regulation. He advocates a global body to regulate, aware of its advancements and limitations, to mitigate its potential adverse impact to society and employment   

Mr. Harari said AI is the first technology that can create new ideas. Previous inventions always needed humans. Even the atomic bomb need humans when to use. Now, even its own developers don’t know the full abilities of what they have created as AI is able to learn by itself. AI learns from all the data and in its interaction, will know so much about our likes, preferences, feelings, etc. This has probable effect of influencing, even manipulating our choices and decisions, unconsciously. This information is powerful.

Will AI take over jobs? Mr. Altman acknowledged jobs will go away but replaced by new and better jobs, although it is difficult to imagine as we don’t know what the future will look like. How to prepare the next generation? Mr. Harari said: “build strong emotional intelligence and mental stability, be adaptable and flexible.” The ability to reinvent is important.  As an analogy, he said, while stone houses were built with strong foundations before, tents, easy to fold and move quickly may be best.

Let’s embrace and enjoy the incredible benefits of AI while being mindful of its potential negative effect to society if uncontrolled or if it falls into the wrong hands.

Uncertain future? Let’s trust that God is in control!


Flor G. Tarriela was former chairman of Philippine National Bank, former undersecretary of Finance, and the first Filipina vice-president of Citibank N.A. She is PNB board advisor, Nickel Asia’s lead independent director, and a director of LT Group Inc., FINEX.  A gardener and an environmentalist, she founded Flor’s Garden in Antipolo.