Episode 401: Why A.I. Can’t Take Over Your HR Department

A.I. is everywhere, and it isn’t going away. More and more discoveries are being made about how popular A.I. tools, such as ChatGPT, can help with various daily tasks, even running a business. There is even talk out there about how certain A.I. tools can run your HR department for you or write your employee handbook. However, listen to Paul Edwards, Ally Dagnino, and Amanda Rishor talk about the risks involved with taking the human out of human resources and using it as a solution rather than a tool. 

Transcript

Voice Over: You’re about to listen to another episode of What The Hell Just Happened?! Join Paul Edwards and his guests as they discuss and sometimes even solve some interesting HR problems. 

Paul: And… I’m gonna go off the rails sometimes and talk about whatever I want. 

 

Paul: Because I’ve asked it a couple of questions. So I have a friend who’s a bird biologist and I’m telling her about Chat GPT over text, which is even more complicated. I’m just like “It’s a thing. You can type things into it and it’ll give you answers back.”

 

[laughing]

 

Paul:  She’s like, “Why would you do that? That’s stupid. That’s called the Internet, right?” And I’m like, “No it’s different.”

 

Amanda: No, it’s no better!

 

Paul: It’s better than the Internet. In fact, it’s going to replace the Internet. And of course, that’s the rumor that the Chat GPT people are spreading around. So we asked, I asked her to give me a good question and it very confidently got a well-known migratory bird’s behavior wrong. We were asking it, “Where does it go?” And it said, you know, “It doesn’t go any farther than Mexico.” And she’s like, “No, this thing ends up way deep in South America every year hanging out down there. Everybody knows that they travel down and see it.” So I guess that’s an example of it being confidently wrong.

 

Amanda: You know what, something interesting I found about Chat GPT, I mean, of course, but I was on Reddit the other day and someone said, “I told Chat GPT all of the items I had in my pantry and asked it to make me a recipe that I could cook for dinner. And it did. And it said, ‘With all this stuff, here’s a recipe you can make for dinner tonight with everything you already have on hand.’” That’s so cool!

 

Paul: Oh, no, that’s amazing. 

 

Amanda: Yeah! [laughing]

 

Paul: And I used it a few times to help me maybe get started on writing something…

 

Amanda: Yeah! To get like, outlines?

 

Paul: That I, you know, lots and lots of changes. I have used it to help someone write their cover letter for a job that they were applying for and it did a really poor job the first time and then I had to keep prompting it and then you have to go back and kind of rewrite it. 

 

Amanda: Because it learns.

 

Paul: It’s a very good writing tool, so I think it does have an application in HR. I think it is going to have a strong application.

 

Ally: Absolutely.

 

Paul: But its, you know, its biggest drawback is…

Voice Over: You’re about to listen to another episode of What The Hell Just Happened?! Join Paul Edwards and his guests as they discuss and sometimes even solve some interesting HR problems. 

Paul: And… I’m gonna go off the rails sometimes and talk about whatever I want. 

 

Paul: …Right now, they really have to hard code it to get it to not use things it knows and spit back out answers when those answers would be inappropriate or the references would be inappropriate.

 

Amanda: Do you remember what you searched when you were asking it that NLRA question?

 

Paul: I asked it to write a really good ‘no sharing your’, so I said, “Can you take the National Labor Relations Act into account? Can you please write a good ‘no discussion of salary’ policy for my handbook?” And it gave me a really good round up about what those rules are and that you know, clearly, if you know anything about, you can look into it. So you’re not supposed to do it. And then it wrote me a fantastic policy. It was like –

 

Ally: Yeah.

 

Paul: It was really, really stunningly well written. 

 

Amanda: Yeah.

 

Paul: Completely illegal,l would get you fined.

 

[laughing]

 

Amanda: So did it because it didn’t really process, “Oh wait, this is illegal, but you’re asking me to do it, so I’m still going to do it.”

 

Paul: Yeah, I’m still going to do it. And they’ve hardcoded in some things that if you ask it to do, if you ask it to be racist, it won’t be racist if it can help it. But, but again, I think the first thing I was trying to allude to is you have to be careful.

 

Ally: And I think, so going back to what Amanda said about asking you to make a recipe out of all of the ingredients in your pantry, that kind of goes to show it, it can be like, look, it has a wealth of knowledge. Obviously, it’s going to be fantastic. I completely agree. It’s going to have its place in HR and in many industries. But with what people are hoping that it’s going to do at this point in replacing policies and replacing HR departments even –

 

Paul: Uh huh.

 

Ally: You have to know what you’re asking it, right? So like, that recipe was great, I’m sure, because you told it exactly what was in the pantry. 

 

Amanda: Yeah.

 

Ally: And as you just said, it took the NLRA into account and it still gave you a great policy.

 

Paul: Yeah. 

 

Ally: But it was –

 

Paul: Illegal.

 

Ally: Wrong. Right? And so that’s why, you know, I think that at this point I’ve seen, like I said online, a lot of people talking about how they’re excited to be able to just send their employees and to the bot to ask them, you know, “I have questions about sick leave.” Your employee doesn’t know what to ask it.

 

Paul: Right.

 

Ally: They don’t know the specifics of what they want. 

 

Amanda: Well, it’s also kind of interesting because didn’t someone do an IQ test on Chat GPT and it passed with flying colors on every section except the one where ‘was it able to conceptualize things that humans can’. Like it said, “Who’s the dad of Jason’s kids?” And it couldn’t realize, oh, Jason’s the dad, you know what I mean? You just told it that, but it couldn’t, like, make that connection. 

 

Paul: Right.

 

Amanda: It was just like, “Which kids are you talking about?” You know what I mean? So it’s that whole thing. Oh, you need a human. [laughing]

 

Ally: You need a human element. Same thing if you were to ask, “Can I, you know, terminate my employee for excessive absences?” It might say, yes. It might say yes and there’s not going to be a human who’s going through the risk assessment that we go through with members that’s going to ask – 

 

Paul: What’s going on.

 

Ally: “Hey, what were these absences? Hey, did they use protected sick leave? Hey, have they you know, did they recently file a sexual harassment claim and now you’re terminating?”

 

Amanda: Oh yeah.

 

Ally: You know, there’s so many elements that you need a real human to go through with you for so much of HR that this, at this point, just can’t do yet.

 

Amanda: Human Resources.

 

Paul: I do think that it’s going to…I do think that it’s going to play a role. I know it’s going to play a role over at CEDR. I mean, we’re looking at it. We have some unique data points. By the way, anybody who’s listening, who’s a client, over at CEDR, not data points that identify you – 

 

[laughing]

 

Paul: But we have a lot of data points that other companies don’t have. And, you know, one of the things, the example you used is a very good example Ally because I can see the bot answering, I can see the Chat answering correctly about the handbook.

 

Amanda: Oh, like if you feed it your handbook?

 

Ally: Uh huh.

 

Paul: Yes. You feed it the handbook and say, “What can I, what you know, what do I need to do? And can you give me the short version?” That’s something you would do with Chat GPT. “Can you give me the short version” or you program it to always give the short version. It just says, you know, be sure to give notice as soon as possible. It goes through maybe a maternity leave request and what you would need to do. And then what do I need to do when I come back? Well, you’ll need to see your physician and you’ll need to do X, Y, and Z. What will happen after that? Well, then the next things will happen. And are there any laws that protect me? Yeah. Here are some of the laws that protect you. So if we feed the handbook, it could go in and take a look at it and give shorter answers to the employees who are looking at it. But here’s the thing, and this goes to speak to what you were saying, there are other problems that require more questions in order to give the right answer. You can get an answer out of the handbook, and that answer will likely be correct. But you won’t ferret out that there’s something else going on that you have to address. 

 

Ally & Amanda: Uh huh.

 

Paul: And what if you do your own employee handbook?

 

Amanda: Oh! [laughing]

 

Ally:  So that’s what I was just going to say. You still need to feed it the handbook – 

 

Paul: Yeah.

 

Ally: To get the proper answers –

 

Paul: Right.

 

Ally: And a –

 

Amanda: A handbook that’s done right. [laughing]

 

Ally: Right. 

 

Paul: Yeah.

 

Amanda: Can’t do your own.

 

Paul: So here’s the thing. I kind of like what I’m about to say next because first time I’ve had this thought, so I was like my first thought thing. My first thought thing. What? Whatever. 

 

Amanda: [laughing]

 

Paul: If you, it may highlight in its answers something that you’ve gotten wrong or something that you’ve missed in your employee handbook. You don’t, it feels right to you because you made it up and you put it in there, but it may use your mistake over and over and over again to tell you what to do as the user of the book. And that could be really serious, you know?

 

Amanda: Yeah, that would be pretty bad.

 

Paul: Could be a serious issue. Yeah. I guess I got to go into this real quick because we just used that example of the handbook. There are two kinds of handbooks: handbooks that are written by professionals who also understand your business, who also understand how to write policy. And Ally, you work with a department that writes policies and you help research and you just had your hand in everything. I think, I hope you will agree with me. It’s really hard because I’m looking directly at her and I’m like, “Do you agree with me?”

 

[laughing]

 

Ally: I’m nervously looking away. [laughing] What if I don’t?

 

Paul: What if I don’t agree with him? Would you agree with me that we have some brilliant people working for us on our compliance team? 

 

Ally: Absolutely. 

 

Paul: Okay, good answer. Compliance team knocked that one out of the park. Would you agree that some of them are better at writing policy than others?

 

Ally: Uh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean – 

 

Paul: It’s just natural, not everybody-

 

Amanda: Legalese.

 

Paul:  So we have a lot of people here who can explain the policy, can make changes to it. But if you ask them to write a policy or multiple policies from scratch, it’s a whole nother set of talent and tools that they may or may not have.

 

Ally: Yeah. It’s just, the way that you interpret the laws, some people are better at explaining it to-

 

Paul: In words.

 

Ally: Members. Yeah. And, and some of us are better actually putting it into words to put in a handbook.

 

Paul: Yeah. So that it’s, so nobody’s left with a misunderstanding. So anyway, just wanted to put that out there, that the handbook is the other, the other. So there’s two kinds of handbooks, the handbooks that are written by people like that and companies like that, like CEDR who really specialize in it, and then there’s everybody else. And there are other companies that match us to a certain degree. But I think even when you go to, you know, I’ve seen handbooks come from law firms are fantastic, but don’t address like ten things –

 

Amanda: Yeah.

 

Paul: Because they don’t know anything about dental. And so they’ve given less saying, you know, less is more. That’s their answer to it. But it’s like, yeah, but you know, what you said in uniforms isn’t, it just doesn’t comport. This practice has a bunch of policies and things that they do around this. It’s very, very important for them and you’ve got to address it more deeply and they just won’t. And then they give it to them and say, “Well I gave it to you in Microsoft Word. You can make changes to it, do whatever you want to.” And that’s just the danger right there.

 

Ally: Right. 

 

Paul: That’s like –

 

Ally: Everything unravels.

 

Paul: Yeah. Put me in my dental office and I’ll have the dentist take me into an operatory, lay me in the chair and give me all the tools and all the x-rays say, “Hey, you can even use the dental assistant.”

 

[laughing]

 

Paul:  “This is going to come out great. Just do it yourself. Just finish the job.”

 

Amanda: [laughing] Just do it yourself!

 

Paul:  “I’ll do it 90% and you just finish the job. You do whatever you need to do to make it look or feel better. I’ll see you in 20 minutes.”

 

Amanda: [laughing]

 

Ally: Yeah.

 

Paul: Yeah. Yeah.

 

Ally: I think that also can go back to using A.I. to write a handbook, which is something that I’ve seen. I have no doubt that it could do it –

 

Amanda: Sure.

 

Ally: But like as an employer, do you know exactly what you need again? Do you know what to ask it? 

 

Paul: Yeah.

 

Ally: Like, for example, what you brought up about uniforms. 

 

Paul: Uh huh.

 

Ally: That’s not something that you might think, “Oh, there’s, there’s actually a lot of specific state laws.”

 

Paul: There’s laws about that, right?

 

Ally: Yeah. And there’s laws about what you have to pay for and there’s laws about what you can include in your dress code policy and as an employer, you might think, “Oh, dress code, that’s completely, that’s all me.”

 

Paul: Let’s talk about hair while we’re in there – 

 

Amanda: Yeah. Right?

 

Ally: Exactly.

 

Paul: Because we’re talking about appearance. 

 

Amanda: Just like the Crown Act.

 

Paul: So let’s put something in there.

 

Ally: That’s exactly what I was thinking. Yeah. And, and so, yeah, you might not even think that, hey, I need to get the law on that and you just write the policy on your own when in fact there’s, there’s details that you might not even think to include that get you in trouble. Yeah.

 

Amanda: Yup.

 

Paul: Okay, so what the hell just happened in HR is that A.I. is coming up. People are getting access to A.I.

 

Amanda: Chat GPT.

 

Paul:  Yeah, Chat GPT dot IO? Yeah, I think it’s – 

 

Amanda: Yeah, I think it’s dot IO. Uh huh.

 

Paul: Dot IO. Yeah, people are getting access to that and other artificial intelligence tools. 

 

Amanda: For sure.

 

Paul: There are a bunch out there and some of them are equal to Chat GPT.

 

Amanda: Yeah.

 

Ally: Uh huh.

 

Paul:  What they’re trying to do is “google” the world. When I say “googling”, in a business sense, google won the race to who’s going to use their email, who’s going to use their calendar, who’s going to use their map. And so they’re trying to win the race to who’s going to be the one that everybody uses to query. I do think that A.I. is going to play a super important role in helping small and large businesses.

 

Amanda: Yeah, it’s a tool. It’s not a solution.

 

Paul: I’m going to give you one right now that I used the other day because I am exploring this. I’m way ahead. I think I’m way ahead of the curve here. And I as soon as I feel like I’ve caught up, then I feel like I’m like 27 months behind again. It’s changing so rapidly. But I asked it, because this is a data point that I want, I asked it, I gave it a certain area code, I’m sorry, zip code and asked what the average pay was for a specific type of clinician. And it confidently gave me back the answer. The problem, though, is, it also cited its source and it doesn’t always do that. It’s cited its source and it’s been kind of doing a round robin when I play this way, it uses different websites to get that information from. It’s using a source where I’m not sure I’m getting the right answer because when you query people, just human beings on your website and you say, look, we’re collecting information on how much people are getting paid tell us how much you make. Well, they don’t match that against the W-2. They don’t confirm.

 

Amanda: Yeah.

 

Paul: And we know that people inflate their pay on these sites when they self-report how much they’re making. So can I trust that that number is correct? And can I report that number back to my members and not cause them to pay, offer $8,000 more a year to that clinician than they need to in the market? And the answer to that is, no, I cannot. So all I could do is produce an answer right now, but I cannot verify it.

 

Amanda: It’s kind of like using Wikipedia for sources on things.

 

Paul: On any given day, somebody could have gone in there, made it crazy.

 

Amanda: Exactly. Not anything that’s reliable or verified. 

 

Paul: Yeah. So yeah, A.I. is awesome.

 

Amanda: Oh, for sure.

 

Ally: I think it’s like you said, it’s going to streamline so many things for small, large companies. It’s going to have a place in HR for sure. I just thought this was an interesting topic to see how far ahead people are jumping with it?

 

Amanda: [laughing] Yeah, right?

 

Paul: Yeah.

 

Ally: And to kind of say –

 

Amanda: Making sure they’re using it right.

 

Ally: Hold on. There’s so much you have to consider before you rely on just this to be able to legally run your HR department and manage your employees.

 

Paul: Yeah.

 

Ally: It will be able to help HR departments in their office. It will be able to help companies like us – 

 

Paul: Yup.

 

Amanda: Uh huh.

 

Ally: Streamline things that then help the managers even more so, it’s exciting.

 

Paul: Well, think about when we came up with the HR Vault and gave it to all of our members. 

 

Amanda: Yeah.

 

Paul: It’s like you can put notes on people’s files. You can store stuff here. Before they were getting sticky notes flying down the hallway stuck to their computers and they’re making notes in their file. They’ve got hard files.

 

Ally: Some still do. So if you’re still doing that –

 

Amanda: Don’t do that anymore! 

 

Ally: Use the Vault!

 

Paul: You could not be doing that. I had a doctor, I guess we’ll end this and this has nothing to do with Chat GPT and everything to do with it. I had a doctor email me. We had sent something out about HIPPA training and how, you know, you need to comply. And he said, “I don’t have to comply with it.” And I was like, okay, I’ll engage because I get the crazy email every now and then. And I’m like, “Doc, why don’t you have to comply?” And this is three years ago. And he says, “There ain’t no Internet at this office. We still operate off of computers that don’t connect to the Internet.” He goes on to explain that the parts of HIPAA that apply to protecting electronic information, he just is like, “They can’t get in here. They can’t get into anything.” He was not correct. He still needed to follow the rules and stuff, but I did love, even in this day and age, I had a doctor –

 

Ally: Yeah.

 

Amanda: Yeah that’s wild.

 

Paul:  You know, Nebraska, Oklahoma somewhere, and he was just like, “No, don’t need it. Don’t need the Internet to be able to treat patients,” and…

 

Amanda: Wow.

 

Paul: Wow. Yeah.

 

Amanda: That’s shocking.

 

Ally: That’s impressive.

 

Paul: Yeah. So Chat GPT means nothing to him. 

 

[laughing]

 

Ally: Yeah. 

 

Paul: Unless you go by there with a floppy disk-

 

Ally: [laughing]

 

Amanda: Right?

 

Paul: And load it on his computer for him.

 

Ally: Aw, those were fun.

 

Amanda: Oh jeez.

 

Paul: Yeah. 

 

Ally: Those floppy disks.

 

Paul: Those were fun. All right, well, thanks for –

 

Amanda: Thank you.

 

Paul: Yeah, thanks for this, just a kind of quick look at A.I.

 

Ally: Thanks Paul. Thanks Amanda.

Voice Over: Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode of What The Hell Just Happened? do Paul a favor; share this with your network. If you have an HR issue or a question, and you’d like us to discuss it on this show, send it to podcast@WTHjusthappened.com. For more HR advice and insights from Paul and his team of experts, you can also join the private Facebook group, HR Base Camp, or visit HRbasecamp.com. Make sure you tune in next week. And remember: better workplaces make better lives.

May 16, 2023

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance based on applicable local, state and/or federal U.S. employment law that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.