Is Artificial Intelligence Good for Society? Potential Impacts of AI
Skip to main content

Is Artificial Intelligence Good for Society? 
Exploring the potential of AI for positive impact in the workplace

May 31, 2023

By Scott Glassman, PsyD

The artificial intelligence revolution is well underway with the release of ChatGPT-4 and other large-language AI models like Google’s Bard.

A woman in a business suit is surrounded by holographic computer code.
The MAPP program is committed to innovative application in the field of human flourishing.

Large-language AI acts like a Wikipedia chatbot, drawing from information available on the internet in answering a user’s prompts or questions. It calculates probabilities of words occurring together and generates output in a conversational style that simulates human intelligence.

ChatGPT-4 has abilities that far exceed what has previously been possible with AI. It can pass law and medical school exams, take on a user-specified style and tone in its responses, craft customer service emails, write well-supported position papers, and provide virtually any kind of recommendation, from house paint suggestions to business marketing strategies.

Is AI Good for Society?

In response to the power of this technology, there is an increasing urgency to clarify the precautions and regulations necessary to make it safe.

There are worries about how AI could disseminate propaganda, propagate bias, replace humans in the workplace, develop unintended harmful capabilities, and work in direct opposition to human interests. A letter calling for a six-month AI development pause to properly assess and mitigate those risks has gained over 30,000 signatures, including those of top tech company leaders like Elon Musk.

While there is increasing emphasis on making sure AI does not become misaligned with human interests, this technology also has the potential to have positive effects for individuals, communities, and society as a whole.

In this regard, positive psychology, the study of human flourishing, can serve as a valuable guide for AI applications that help human beings thrive.

AI, Productivity and Job Satisfaction

“The development of Artificial Intelligence is rapidly forcing us to reconsider the ways that organizations operate,” says Dr. Matthew Della Porta, faculty in PCOM’s Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program.

Dr. Della Porta teaches the Positive Institutions and Systems class in the MAPP program, which focuses on organizational wellness.

“The most obvious benefit of AI is that it can be used to streamline organizational processes that would ordinarily require relatively slow and inefficient human effort,” Della Porta notes.

AI-assisted tasks can make workers more productive and increase their free time to focus on what matters most to them. According to research from Stanford and MIT, AI tools like ChatGPT increased worker productivity at one company by 14%. It enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced requests for managers to intervene, and improved employee retention.

Consultants with positive psychology backgrounds could evaluate workflow stress points unique to an organization and subsequently identify where the use of AI could reduce task-related stressors or inefficiencies. This could be done with the goal of not eliminating jobs, but enhancing them.

Guided by positive psychology experts, ChatGPT could also help managers and human resource professionals directly address workplace wellness. For example, after gathering needs assessment data, positive psychology consultants could use AI collaboratively with a management team in generating ideas for wellness interventions that include gratitude, kindness, or fun activities.

Strengths-based interventions show particular promise in this regard.

“In our class, Building Positive Institutions and Systems, we learn about the advantages of individuals within organizations using their strengths to complete their work tasks,” Della Porta says.

ChatGPT could serve as a platform for workers to explore their strengths and utilize them more actively. The VIA character strengths survey is one widely known empirically supported approach to personal strengths identification. One could see a future where AI is integrated into VIA survey results, guiding users in creating action plans for activating their strengths across different job roles.

AI may be the key to more positive management styles as well.

An AI model could be programmed to assist managers in tracking employee achievement, providing reminders for recognition and specific positive feedback. AI could also support job crafting exercises that guide employees in creating more enjoyable and meaningful projects based on self-reflection.

MAPP Program and AI

In the coming year, faculty in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology Program at PCOM will be helping students consider the well-being implications of positive psychology and AI. The MAPP program is committed to innovative application in the field of human flourishing that is responsive to new developments like large-language AI, which can reshape how we live, work, and relate to each other in positive ways.

You May Also Like: