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Over 70% of CEOs see generative AI as investment priority amid ethical concerns: report

A new report from professional services firm KPMG has shed light on the stance of top-level executives on generative artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace.

According to the report, 72% of CEOs in the U.S. affirm that deploying generative AI into their operations is a “top investment priority” despite the prevailing macroeconomic challenges. However, opinions differ in deploying investments into AI, with 57% of respondents confirming their intent to purchase new technology while 43% will be keen on investing in upskilling their staff.

A large number of respondents are content with playing the long game with their AI investments, expecting a return on their investments within three to five years. Only 23% appear confident of reaping the rewards within one to three years after spending on new technology or upskilling their staff strength.

The growing appetite for generative AI and emerging technology in the workspace by CEOs is fuelled by several factors, including the need for cost-savings and efficiency. At the moment, generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard have made their debut in corporate America, with thousands of employees leaning on them to handle mundane or repetitive tasks.

“As CEOs navigate prolonged economic and geopolitical uncertainty, it is important to focus on what they can control and consider how they harness generative AI to rapidly conduct scenario planning and address changing market conditions or emerging risks faster and better equipped than ever before,” said Carl Carande, KPMG Global Head of Advisory.

Despite the headlong rush for generative AI, U.S. CEOs are aware of several risks associated with their integration into the workplace. Top of the list of concerns by U.S.-based CEOs is the absence of a robust legal framework to regulate the development, use, and deployment of generative AI systems.

Ethical concerns, the potential of job cuts, technical skills, costs, and cybersecurity issues form part of the pressing challenges faced by CEOs in pivoting their operations to AI. Driven by fears of a data leak, several U.S.-based technology and financial companies banned their employees from using OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

To solve the challenge of the absence of a regulatory framework, countries have begun laying the building blocks for comprehensive rules with globalization as one of the pillars.

AI won’t replace humans in the workplace

Contrary to growing fears, multiple reports have poked holes in the theories that AI will trigger seismic changes in the workplace by replacing humans. One IBM study opined that while a mass extinction of jobs remains unlikely, up to 40% of employees in the workforce will require upskilling to be relevant.

A study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) submitted that rather than eliminating jobs, generative AI will complement the efforts of employees. However, the report pointed out that entry roles and customer service jobs faced the most risks of AI replacements, with females being the most affected demographic.

Watch: AI is for ‘augmenting’ not replacing the workforce

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