Two thirds (66%) of organisations in the UK are implementing or considering bans on generative AI applications within the workplace, according to a survey of IT decision makers by software company Blackberry.
Most (69%) of these bans are long term or permanent, with 78% concerned that unsecured AI apps pose a cybersecurity threat.
More on artificial intelligence:
Workplace AI policies: Does your company need them?
HR managers worried AI will replace them
AI use in employee terminations raises HR concerns
Although 76% of IT decision makers agree that organisations have a right to control the applications that employees use for business purposes, 66% think that generative AI bans are too restrictive.
AI is seen by IT decision makers as a way to increase efficiency (53%) and innovation (44%), and to enhance creativity (42%).
Stephanie Coward, MD for human capital management at IRIS Software Group said banning AI should be a last resort.
Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “AI is here to stay, ChatGPT will just be the first of many, don’t be a Luddite.
“This is all part of the normal technology change curve, so companies shouldn’t fear ChatGPT. Whilst it’s understandable why risks around security and privacy are making businesses hesitate, the potential benefits for job enrichment and business efficiency cannot be ignored.
Coward said in order to regulate AI properly, businesses should set clear parameters, through a framework or code of conduct, for what AI should and shouldn’t be used for.
However, they should avoid being too prescriptive or risk losing out on creativity.
She added: “Instead of out-right banning generative AI, the best approach is to identify potential use cases and set up pilots to do some proof of concepts to see if the hype is real. That way you can really understand the true risks and how they could be mitigated.
“It’s important to not be too stringent with how people use it; creating an internal ‘sandbox’ where people can freely test and experiment with AI in a controlled environment will be more productive in the long run.
“Empowering your people with AI and other innovative tools will help them – and the business – quickly work out how they might be used on a day-to-day basis to, safely and securely.”
The majority (68%) of business leaders think employees should not use AI without a managers’ permission, according to a separate study from technology authority Tech.co last month (July 2023)
Shishir Singh, chief technology officer at BlackBerry, said business should shape policies around AI as the technology develops.
He said: “Banning generative AI applications in the workplace can mean a wealth of potential business benefits are quashed.
“As platforms mature and regulations take effect, flexibility could be introduced into organisational policies. The key will be in having the right tools in place for visibility, monitoring and management of applications used in the workplace.”
Blackberry’s research was conducted in June and July 2023, surveying 2000 IT decision makers globally.