AI has revolutionized the world by automating repetitive tasks, enabling personalized customer experiences, writing songs, creating art, and what not. In this riveting podcast, dive into the evolution of the human-AI relationship, uncover crucial knowledge business leaders must grasp for effective AI adoption, and discover trends in information systems.
Yu Chen is an Assistant Professor at the School of Information Systems and Technology at San Jose State University. She also serves as the Director of the California State University AI for Social Good Project. With a Ph.D. in the field of human-computer interaction from EPFL, Switzerland, Chen brings a wealth of knowledge to the intersection of technology, ethics, and societal impact.
Harshika is a seasoned product manager with a passion for business transformation, design thinking, technology, marketing trends, SaaS security, and human-computer interactions. What interests her most is the intersection of these fields, which is why she stays on top of the latest industry insights to uncover strategies for success in today's dynamic business landscape.
Welcome to another episode of the Revenue Focused Marketer where we discuss anything and everything related to marketing as well as data Today.
We have a special guest with us who has a phd in the area of human computer interactions from Epfl in Switzerland.
And she is currently an assistant professor at the School of Information System and Technology, Lucas College of Business at San Jose State.
She is also a director of the California State University A I for Social Good Project, which is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and we’re super lucky and excited to have you Chen with us today.
So welcome you Chen.
Thank you Hershey.
Thank you for having me.
The pleasure is definitely ours.
I have been very fortunate enough to also have attended your classes.
So it is really great to be able to, you know, have you on this podcast and get your thoughts on some really exciting topics today.
I know that you have been working with the A I for social good project for a while now and I would just like to start off with that and just understand if you could describe the project to us and how has the experience been for you so far?
Yeah, that’s really a project deep in my heart, a social group project is really deep in my heart and a special place.
The goal of the project is to educate under undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds in learning A I through the lens of social good.
Through this program, we’re hoping to invite our students to learn about A I concept their application and then identify an important social issue within their communities.
And then they use what I’ve learned to either propose or actually prototype the solution to address the social issues that they have identified.
We have started this project back in 2018 in College of Business among business students, undergraduate business students at San Jose State University.
And over the years, we received really great feedback from both the students and also the partners from the community, from industry and also from other sister, brother universities within the California State University System.
So now it has been expanding going beyond the San Jose State University and also other California State University system including Cal Poly Pomona and also CS U San Bernardino with the support from the CS U transfers office.
And at the same time, it’s no longer just applying within business students but also to computer science students and geography students.
We just held the very first CS UA I for social, good student innovation, webinar or symposium in May and was really great success.
We attracted a lot of people who are interested from the academia and industry and community, et cetera.
So yeah, very excited about the A F for social group projects education initiative with the goal of educating the next generation students who are not able, not only capable but also responsible leaders for the future.
I think that is amazing, especially given the fact that A I is getting, it’s become a buzzword, it’s everywhere.
And especially I think after the introduction of Chad GP D, it’s something that everybody is talking about today.
So I think the fact that like, you know, you guys are taking an initiative just to teach the next generation to come about A I but also like the social good aspect of it because a lot of the times I think A I also seems to have a very negative impact on people.
There is an assumption that it might not be used ethically.
So I think the fact that you the teaching is for social good, it’s a really good start off for students to learn about A I but also the impacts that it can have.
And I think that leads to my next question.
How do you personally see the relationship between humans and A I evolving now that like, you know, newer applications are being released.
Yeah, I think that’s a great question.
Personally, for myself, it is really difficult to predict how the relationship between humans and A I to evolve.
But I think it all depends on the intention, how humans are trying to use A I and are already doing, using A I.
So essentially from my perspective, A I or any other technology, they are neutral, they, they don’t have particular good aspects of good or bad.
It is humans and either the designers, creators or users, how they’re going to use it and under which context.
So with that in mind, that’s why we’re really thinking about encouraging students to really thinking about using technology for good purposes.
Part of the reason is for any technology can be A I, it can be another technology in the future, really want to plant the seeds among students who understand setting a good intention, the wholesome intention of using the technology for, for humanity, for, for the society, for underserved population, underserved communities.
So so the first thought I have is the relationship.
If we want to have a positive or wholesome relationship with A I or at least not causing harm, it’s really important to set up the intention, why we’re using those technology.
So having said that we do see just within a few months, within last year when Cha G BT became so trendy and hot.
One of the things we notice is like people are already adapting it in a really unprecedented speed.
And one example might be let’s say using C GB D, not only to get questions answered, but also revise help or help people with writing etcetera.
And just with that, you’ll notice, oh, a lot of, especially Inca you, you see a lot of concern and maybe cases in terms of plagiarism and things like that.
So that’s a big warning about when technology, so A I, it can really increase the productivity and efficiency in any single task in an unprecedented way, that way, better than humans.
So it’s really important to have the guard rail of what we can do and of course, with the regulation and the early education will be super important.
And I, I think a lot of businesses also in addition to students and us just applying like, you know, chat GP T and other Softwares in our daily lives, I see a lot of businesses also implementing and adopting A I into their daily working just to make the process more seamless and effective.
So are there certain things you think business leaders should keep in mind while like, you know, rolling out this adoption of A I, especially maybe A I?
Yeah, I think that’s a super important question.
So first of all A I is already pervading every single industry including business particularly and chatbot has been deployed and used in business actually for a very long time for the last last decade.
And it’s important really to deploy in a mindful and it iterative way.
Meaning even though we heard about all this technology is fascinating and is really intelligent, but the technology itself is still developing.
And we heard a lot about the hallucination.
Is that the right word hallucination?
Sorry, forget about that.
Maybe you can do.
Yeah, we heard a lot on the news about how C GP T can give random and random answers without actual, without adhering to truth or just in inaccurate answers.
So it is really important to deploy with caution in a iterative way instead of a batch deployment.
And that’s the first consideration of understanding technology still evolving.
And the second thing is really consider the potential diversity and ethics concern in the deployment of A I.
And so for A I or any other advanced technology usually started within the urban areas and especially in the United States that will be the Silicon Valley, New York and Seattle et cetera.
And it is important to consider the underserved or rural areas and underserved population.
So that is not causing further disparity in economic status and development.
And the, the, the last thing that came to me is for businesses since A I has the power of increase maximizing the productivity and efficiency.
It is important to consider what is the ultimate goal of using A I?
Is it just for productivity?
Is that just for revenue, are there any other metrics that businesses need to consider such as the actual well being for the users and the actual well being for their employees?
Those are the, those are the things to consider of what is the actual impact of A I for customers for employees, et cetera.
I think this sort of reminds me of an article I recently read in CNN Business and they sort of talked about how a lot of CEO S are saying that A I could eventually in the next 5 to 10 years really destroy humanity.
So I think a big concern with the adoption of A I is a lot of people are scared, it’s gonna take away jobs.
A lot of people are also scared about how it can potentially destroy humanity.
And like, you know, since you closely work with IBM Watson, you’ve seen a lot of like, you know, A I technologies also, I just wanted to understand what’s your take on, like, you know, this whole negative concept of what A I can do.
Yeah, I think that’s a really important concern.
And again, I think really, it’s important to educate not only students but also the businesses and also the society about the intention of using the advanced technologies.
can we use it really for more of the equality for the equity and also welfare for the society?
or is it just for driven by a lot of the productivity level?
We have been working with IBM with very closely for the past few years.
And I also noticed there’s a lot of trend within IBM I believe in other tech companies as well in terms of the emphasis on the social good aspect of technology, the emphasis on the sustainability aspect of technology, the and also the ethics perspective.
So those are the things I already see the trend in those high tech companies to really emphasize on the corporate social responsibility.
And I’m so happy to see those trends in some of the high tech companies coming from those, some of the most brilliant minds definitely.
And I think sort of continuing down talking about the downsides of organization wide adoption of A I, what we’ve observed is there are employees that have low morale when it comes to the adoption of A I, because there’s a fear that A I might be stealing our jobs.
And while most organizations do take change management seriously, do you think there are specific A I adoption strategies that they can think of just to limit the employee burnout and just, you know, being a little bit more mindful about that?
Yeah, I think that’s a really legitimate concern.
And, I think it’s also tying back to the previous question that you’re asking, a i replacing jobs and that’s a really, it’s not something going to happen, it’s already happening.
And, I just read the news yesterday, that’s, the self driving cars in the, in the past, we, we thought about self driving cars are many, maybe testing, like way more are testing them within the Google campus.
And now if you go to San Fran downtown San Francisco, actually, it’s very easy to just see the self driving cars running around, around the streets together with other self driving cars.
And actually from the Bloomberg tech news, Google has already has the plan of using self driving cars as a robot taxi.
in the near future, we may see the service maybe replacing Uber or Lyft or the and the jobs of the Uber and Lyft tax, Uber and Lyft drivers might be seriously impacted.
And this is just one example and we see they’re already happening and therefore we can definitely see the importance of upskilling or reskilling within the existing workforce.
So I think it’s a good direction to educate in terms of to provide more A I literate literacy education.
On the other hand, learning anything new is not easy at all.
And just from the my, my experience working with students, if you’re thinking about teaching A I to students.
Usually a lot of them in the beginning would shy away.
Oh, that’s not my major.
I’m not computer science major.
So they would feel a little bit resistance.
Actually, a lot of resistance at the very beginning.
So it’s really important to teach them, educate, students in a way that it’s highly related to their life experience.
So that’s why we are inviting them to pick a problem by themselves.
That’s that, that they cared about.
So the reason I mentioned that example is the same with employee training instead of just telling them this is something that you need to learn and things like that, it might be helpful to really connect with what they care about their needs and their needs might be.
I worry about catching up with the next generation of how the company works and I worry about my or let them know about this is needed for the future jobs and workforce et cetera or maybe something even deeper about what they actually care about and how A I can make some part can address some of the questions and problems.
And again, I don’t have a very specific answer, but I feel if all those trainings can be more based on the employee in the training needs instead of the general training, I think that will just make the whole experience more relatable and more meaningful instead of a chore.
No, I think you make a great point.
I think a lot of us, like, have the hesitation while implementing A I into our lives because we think we’re not all, like, you know, computer science majors or professionals within technology, but A I is something that is touching our lives regardless and mostly all aspects of our life, regardless of, like, you know, what particular field of job that we’re working in.
, I think primarily, I don’t think Uber drivers or anyone in that industry would have had to care about or learn about technology as much as they do now.
, but it sort of leads me to my next question, which would be, how do you think people can really learn more about A I?
Are there like, you know, or are there any skills that, like, people can develop now that would help them in being able to, like, you know, have their jobs regardless of, like the implementation of A I, so I guess just in a way helping our listeners also stay ahead of the curve, right?
What are different ways that they can do that?
Yeah, I think that’s a great question.
And, and again, I feel learning is most meaningful when it’s, when people are feeling motivated and the topic they want to investigate.
And, and, actually one of the things I feel can be helpful is instead of thinking about, oh, I’m going to learn about A I, which sounds a little bit daunting at the beginning.
It might be more interesting to actually contemplate what are already some of the A I technology that I’m already using.
This is interesting because when I asked my students at the very beginning asking students, what do you think are some of the A I technologies we’re using already?
And students would not really thinking about they are already using A I.
But then if we’re talking about, hey, let’s think about the recommendation you receive from Amazon, thinking about the emails you’re receiving from customer relationship management.
And think about the youtube videos that you got recommended about et cetera.
So those are already like the early adoption of A I that’s already within our life.
And then we are talking about because we have business students who are thinking about the marketing emails and things like that.
They realize, oh, it’s already part of my daily life.
So once they realize it’s part of their life and they feel interested, then they may feel more motivation to learn certain topics.
So once students feel motivated and then they can continue to explore what might be some of the topics they’re interested, maybe it’s machine learning, maybe it’s building the chatbot, maybe it’s natural language processing.
So with that, there are a lot of free courses online.
And so I think understanding what’s what are some of the A I technology already exist in our daily lives and be more mindful of that.
And then understanding what might be topics that I feel.
Oh, this is something later I can apply in my, in my work.
And then once we have that motivation and that preference, then there are a lot of online courses that are available.
I think that’s a very effective answer.
And I think that’s something a lot of folks can use just to get started with A I and get a better understanding of like, you know, different possibilities with A I I think within the marketing realm, as well as sales, there are a lot of folks that are now using A I or automation tools to make their messaging more personalized.
What do you think can be done to make sure that their value proposition is unique versus having the prospects feel that they’re just on the receiving end of a canned template.
Because I don’t think that would effectively make a customer want to, you know, sign up or explore or even get a demo if it’s a very canned template.
So would you happen to have any recommendations on that side?
Yeah, I think that’s a really important, interesting and also important question because instead of on the business side, I do have a lot of experience this kind of reflection from the customer side because basically I receive a lot of emails all the time because I may be unintentionally subscribe to their newsletter and promotion, letter et cetera.
In the very beginning, I found this kind of customized and personalized email template is really effective because well, I think it’s in the last decade, you notice start with your name and seem to understand you a little bit with and then eventually followed with some kind of offers or free samples and things like that.
And so bit by bit, I think I start to, when people get when this became a trend, people start to lose the faith in the authenticity of this kind of emails.
And time back to our original discussion, earlier discussion, eventually A I is a tool to support humans either for business owners or for the customers.
And if you’re thinking about the whole business process, actually essentially is the interaction between humans and machines are there to help maybe make it more efficient, maybe make it more effective.
when and and again, it’s also the intention of what do business want here is that only for productivity and revenue or it is a longer vision of also really building an authentic customer relationship.
So I do think there’s a lot of value in A I and machine learning and natural language processing in understanding more about the customers, especially their needs.
I think that’s really essential so that we know what they need better so that we can provide more services that meet their needs.
That part is important.
But if it, if the whole process becomes more mechanical, then customers definitely will feel.
I’m just another target from this emails.
And, and an analogy, we, we analogy is that in recent example, we saw are when people are starting using CG BT to revise their, to even compose or revise their emails.
People immediately discovered that no matter how sophisticated the email is, how professional the language is when, when it’s so different.
And so scripted, you, people will immediately tell, especially if it’s so different from your regular style.
So you can see that’s an example of backfire when people with the best text, people will see this is from chat GP T and they wouldn’t really care about the content anymore.
So in the same case, in business cases, I think understanding users needs this is something definitely we can learn from A I.
But on the other hand, can we take it from there so that we’re building more authentic customer, business, customer relationship and take it further, I think that will be really essential so that customers are not seeing themselves only as a productivity tool.
Yeah, I think that’s huge, especially given the fact that A I could essentially be used more to like, you know, understand customer needs versus like just making the process a little bit faster, right?
And even within like the creation and utilization of chat GP T, for example, for creating like responses to emails or certain things like that, I think it is very like the response of chad GP T or A I would essentially be really based on the input that is provided to them.
So I think understanding the customer leads would help create better inputs that can also in the end helping getting a better output.
And it wouldn’t look as scripted or like, you know, make customers feel like it isn’t something that’s genuine.
I think you were really right in saying it’s very easy to like, you know, still spot something is just taken off of an A I two versus authentically written by because it, it might miss a human touch, right?
So I think for businesses, it might be really important to keep these aspects in mind, especially the now the fact that like, you know, even the customers know that there are technologies present that are assisting them in getting the delivery that they are.
And I think all of this has been really exciting.
The last point that I would sort of want to talk more about is like, what are some emerging trends or advancements within, you know, information systems that you particularly find exciting or impactful or see growing in the near future?
Yeah, I think one exciting trend I would see is the whole A I research is expanding from just the technical aspect to also the its impact and relationship with, with the society or put another way A I society and ethics.
And I think that’s really important because even though A I started off as a sub branch from the computer science discipline, but we can see is pervading every single aspect of industry in our lives as well.
So it’s really important to investigate and the diversity, ethics, equity, and also its impact on humanity and society.
I just feel really excited to see a lot more researchers from different disciplines are diving into those fields so that the more people are providing the guard rail and discussion about ethical and responsible use of A I and I think that’s very important for the society and for businesses as well.
Yeah, I think that would be huge, especially given the fact that there we discovered in this chat itself, there are ways that A I can really seem ill for the society.
So just having like no businesses and users of technology being more mindful and the assistance of these, these research would make a huge impact.
Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us in today’s session.
I think it was a lot of learning and also really insightful to, you know, learn from someone who has been an expert in this industry.
So thank you, Professor Chen for being here today.
It’s absolutely a pleasure to be here.
Thank you also to our users for tuning in and we will catch you on the next episode of the revenue focus marketer.