Davos CEOs use ChatGPT to write business emails

Davos CEOs use ChatGPT to write business emails

Davos, Switzerland CNN —

Jeff Maggioncalda, the CEO of online learning provider Coursera, said when he first tried ChatGPT he was “stunned”. It’s now part of his everyday life.

He uses the powerful new AI chatbot tool to send emails. He uses it to phrase speeches “in a friendly, upbeat, authoritative tone of mixed cadence.” He even uses it to break down big strategic questions — like how Coursera should approach integrating artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT into its platform.

“I use it as a writing assistant and as a thinking partner,” Maggioncalda told CNN.

Maggioncalda is one of thousands of business leaders, politicians and academics gathered this week for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. On the agenda are a number of pressing issues weighing on the global economy, from the energy crisis to the war in Ukraine and trade transformation. But what many can’t stop talking about is ChatGPT.

The tool, which artificial intelligence research firm OpenAI made available to the public late last year, has sparked conversations about how “generative AI” services – which, after being trained with huge online datasets, turn prompts into original essays, stories, songs and transform images – could radically change the way we live and work.

Some claim that there are artists, tutors, programmers, and writers (yes, even journalists) from a job. Others are more optimistic, positing that it will allow employees to work through to-do lists more efficiently or focus on higher-level tasks.

It’s a debate that has intrigued many C-suite executives, often after testing the tool for themselves.

Christian Lanng, CEO of digital supply chain platform Tradeshift, said he was blown away by the skills ChatGPT has demonstrated, even after years of experience with it The Silicon Valley hype.

He has also used the platform to write emails and claims no one noticed the difference. He even had it do some bookkeeping work, a service that Tradeshift currently employs an expensive professional services firm to provide.

Until now, ChatGPT has mostly been treated as a curiosity and a harbinger of what is to come. It relies on OpenAI’s GPT 3.5 language model, which is already deprecated; the more advanced GPT 4 version is in the works and could be released this year.

Critics – of which there are many – are quick to point out that it makes mistakes, is painfully neutral, and shows a clear lack of human empathy. For example, a tech news publication was forced to issue several significant corrections to an article written by ChatGPT. And New York City public schools have banned students and teachers from using it.

But the software or similar programs from competitors could soon take the business world by storm.

Microsoft (MSFT), an investor in OpenAI, announced this week that the company’s tools — including GPT-3.5, programming assistant Codex and image generator DALL-E 2 — are now generally available to business customers in a package called the Azure OpenAI Service . ChatGPT will be added soon.

“I see these technologies as co-pilots that help people do more with less,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told an audience in Davos this week.

Maggioncalda has a similar perspective. He is looking to bring generative AI into Coursera’s offerings this year and sees an opportunity to make learning more interactive for students who don’t have access to in-person classes or one-on-one meetings with subject matter experts.

He recognizes that challenges such as preventing fraud and ensuring accuracy need to be addressed. And he’s concerned that the increasing use of generative AI might not necessarily be good for society — people might think less agile, for example, as writing can be helpful in processing complex ideas and refining insights.

Nevertheless, he sees the need to act quickly.

“Those who do not use this will soon be severely disadvantaged. How, shortly. Very soon,” said Maggioncalda. “Just thinking about my cognitive abilities with this tool. Compared to before it is much higher and my efficiency and productivity is much higher.”