With AI comes a double-edged sword | Inquirer Opinion

With AI comes a double-edged sword

/ 04:30 AM January 10, 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not new. Neither is reputational risk. While corporations have been using AI for some time now, most of it has been unseen in data analytics, predicting customer behavior, sales and marketing, or operations. Most of the time, clients and customers do not see the touch of AI in a corporation’s work.

For instance, a manufacturing company might use machine learning to collect and analyze an immense amount of data, that it would then use to identify patterns and anomalies to enable it to improve operations. As a customer of this manufacturing company, you’d probably never see this AI in the works.

That is set to change with ChatGPT, which uses generative AI as a language model to answer questions and assist with tasks. Its uses now are varied—students might use it to write an essay, a software engineer to code, a traveler to plan an itinerary, while some are already using it as a search engine.

Companies are planning to jump on this bandwagon. Forbes reported that Meta, Canva, and Shopify are using ChatGPT to answer customers’ questions. It also found that Ada, a Toronto-based company that automates 4.5 billion customer service interactions, has partnered with ChatGPT to further enhance the technology. As part of its evolution, CNBC reported that Microsoft is planning to release technology so that big companies can launch their own chatbots using the OpenAI ChatGPT technology. That’s going to be billions of people interacting with ChatGPT.


It seems like a perfect partnership, a natural next step for the technology. But not everyone has jumped onto this tempting bandwagon. Some of the most AI-proficient organizations in the world are treading with caution, and for good reason. As impressive as ChatGPT has proved so far, large language models like ChatGPT are still rife with well-known problems. They amplify social biases, often negative against women and people of color. They are riddled with loopholes—users found that they could circumvent ChatGPT’s safety guidelines, which are supposed to stop it from providing dangerous information, by asking it to simply imagine it’s a bad AI. In other words, ChatGPT-like AI is fraught with reputational risk.

That doesn’t mean we have to dismiss AI like ChatGPT. Adopting new technology of any sort is bound to come with risks. So how do we reap the benefits of AI while maintaining a healthy level of reputational risk?

The Reputation, Crisis, and Resilience team at Deloitte held a roundtable with leaders in financial services, technology, and health-care industries to discuss how they approach the complex challenge of managing reputation risk.

Some of the points concluded were: First, foster a reputation of intelligent culture. One of the key things discussed was creating a culture that is sensitive to brand and reputation. In every decision made, employees should have an internal compass that constantly asks: Will this move the needle on the company’s reputation, and how? This can be cultivated through holistic onboarding and training programs.


Second, set a reputation risk tolerance. Setting this can help organizations make intentional decisions. No company wants to take a reputational hit, but few companies set tolerance levels for how much risk they want to take. When you have a threshold to stay within, it’s easier to deal with new technologies you might not understand fully.

Third, utilize reputation risk management. Measurement methods include regular surveys, media monitoring, and key opinion research. However, leaders must find a balance between collecting relevant data without drowning in it. Research shows that too much data collection can be counterproductive, distracting people from the bigger picture, or creating a risk-averse attitude.


As AI continues to develop very quickly, knowing its intricate depths and breadth all the time will be difficult. While we should keep abreast, what’s more important is focusing on cultivating a strong mindset around reputational risk so that no matter the tool—AI, social media, cryptocurrency—we can always manage the risks involved. The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Conall McDevitt is managing partner of Europe and Asia for the Penta Group.

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TAGS: artificial intelligence, Commentary

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