ChatGPT: A Tipping Point or Disrupter for GBA Members?

Joel Carson, Executive Director

I recently had coffee with a long-time friend Kevin, who’s an experienced
futurist for an international consulting company, and an advocate for using technology for social good. Even before our caffeine jolt, he was almost crawling out of his skin telling me about a seismic shift in AI
technology in recent months that will significantly change our world.
He was of course talking about OpenAI’s stable release of ChatGPT on January 30, 2023.

Although I had not explored it, Kevin shared with me why this technology is disruptive, and my mind was blown. As I reflected on my world, I quickly linked this technology with potential impacts to our profession. Some are:

• Geoprofessional education
• Proposals and technical reports.
• GBA Member branding and marketing material.
• Resumes GBA-Member firms receive in from potential employees.
• Conference keynote presentations
• Crystal Ball Workshop Subject Matter Experts (SME’s)
• GBA recruiting efforts for new members
• And other key aspects of our livelihoods

After coffee with Kevin, I quickly drove back to my office and jumped into ChatGPT and OpenAI’s DALL-E, a similar platform that generates photos, paintings, and sketches. Again, my mind was blown. He was right!

The Harvard Business Review recently published a must-read article titled, “ChatGPT is a Tipping Point for AI”. They shared that ChatGPT might seem like a clever toy, but a deeper exploration reveals much more potential. One of the four reasons the application matters so much is “it has an incredible capacity to perform different kinds of writing with more significant implications than might be initially apparent. The use of AI in writing can greatly increase the productivity of businesses in a variety of industries. By utilizing AI’s ability to quickly and accurately generate written content, businesses can save time and resources, allowing them to focus on other important tasks. This is particularly beneficial for industries such as marketing and advertising, consulting, and finance, where high-quality written materials are essential for communicating with clients and stakeholders.”

In February, posted an article after they surveyed over 1,000 current and recent job seekers (defined here as having looked for a job within the past two months) who have used ChatGPT when applying. They reported 46% of job seekers are using ChatGPT to write their resumes and/or cover letters. These computer-generated resumes are certainly making headway because 78% of these job seekers got an interview when using application materials written by ChatGPT. Something all HR managers should be aware of in that computer generated resumes may hinder the ability to differentiate between the written communication skills of candidates?

To further explore how chatbots may be used by GBA members, I asked ChatGPT: “What is the Future for Geoprofessionals in the U.S.?” and I watched this response as it was typed on to my screen in about 35-seconds. It read:

The future for geoprofessionals in the U.S. is promising, with significant opportunities for growth and development. Geoprofessionals are experts in the fields of geology, geotechnical engineering, and related disciplines, and they play a critical role in the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure. One of the significant trends for geoprofessionals in the U.S. is the increasing demand for their expertise. As the population grows and infrastructure needs to be expanded and upgraded, the demand for geoprofessionals will continue to increase. This is particularly true as we face new challenges, such as climate change, urbanization, and sustainability, which require innovative solutions that can only be developed by experts in geology and geotechnical engineering.

Another trend for geoprofessionals in the U.S. is the increasing use of technology. New and innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT), are transforming the way geoprofessionals work. For instance, data analytics can be used to analyze vast amounts of geotechnical data, providing insights that would be difficult to obtain using traditional methods. AI and machine learning algorithms can also be used to develop predictive models, allowing geoprofessionals to anticipate and mitigate risks.

The growing focus on sustainability is also creating new opportunities for geoprofessionals in the U.S. Geoprofessionals can play a crucial role in designing and constructing infrastructure that is environmentally friendly and sustainable. This may include the use of new materials and techniques that reduce the impact of construction on the environment, as well as the optimization of resource use during the construction process.

Finally, the increasing complexity of infrastructure projects is creating new opportunities for geoprofessionals in the U.S. With the growing demand for infrastructure that is both sustainable and resilient, geoprofessionals will be needed to design and construct structures that can withstand the effects of climate change, such as increased rainfall and flooding. This will require expertise in soil mechanics, structural design, and materials science, as well as the ability to integrate the latest technologies into their work.

In conclusion, the future for geoprofessionals in the U.S. is bright, with significant opportunities for growth and development. As the demand for infrastructure continues to increase and new challenges emerge, such as climate change and sustainability, geoprofessionals will play a critical role in developing solutions that are both effective and sustainable. With their expertise in geology, geotechnical engineering, and related disciplines, geoprofessionals are well-positioned to contribute to the development of sustainable and resilient infrastructure in the US. Additionally, the increasing use of technology, the growing focus on sustainability, and the complexity of infrastructure projects will continue to create new opportunities for geoprofessionals in the years ahead.”

While this machine-generated prognostication sounds a bit shallow and wiki-ish, I found this response to be thorough and generally depicts what I know about the future of our profession. GBA members preparing strategic plans may apply this approach as a starting point and connect opportunities with local market knowledge to identify areas for growth and prosperity. Again, this AI generated response only took 35-seconds.

While I still don’t understand all the implications (I’m sure some are not positive) of this new technology, the bottom line is ChatGPT and other chatbot platforms are here and can be accessed and used by anyone. These “tools” will be leveraged in ways we don’t yet understand, and often in ways that are beyond our control. GBA members would be wise to explore AI chatbots and stay current with their developments as they will surely be a part of our future.