Emerging Technology

Identifying and researching emerging tech with the potential to enrich or disrupt the real estate industry.

Why Caution Is Needed in Following the ChatGPT, AI Hype

Real estate professionals are among the early adopters using generative AI, and there is no doubt that there are business benefits. Agents and brokers use OpenAI’s uber-popular chatbot, ChatGPT, to write blog posts and newsletters, create staging imagery, build out work processes, develop business plans, write listing descriptions, facilitate customer service, perform keyword research, and more.

However, new tools with far-reaching implications should be monitored, and that includes the companies that produce them. After all, OpenAI certainly has generated plenty of news headlines lately—and not just for its ChatGPT. Sam Altman, its cofounder and CEO, was abruptly removed from his position in mid-November, and then, in a sudden reversal, was hired just five days later with no clear explanation ever given as to why.  

A High Stakes Gamble

OpenAI is an $80 billion company, the third most valuable startup in the world. Its now-famous ChatGPT app hit the market in 2022 and immediately grabbed consumers’ attention and the media spotlight. It also became the fastest-growing app in history. Within two months of its release, ChatGPT reached 100 million active monthly users. The removal of Altman as CEO could’ve decimated OpenAI—many employees threatened to quit during his temporary ouster, which could have left the company in limbo.

Because generative AI is wildly popular and has game-changing capabilities in its many uses, trust is vital and is a frequent topic in the government, tech and business domains. In late October, President Biden issued the Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence indicating that the United States will lead and govern the development of AI according to specific guiding principles and priorities. In November, NAR’s Federal Tech Policy Committee also initiated conversations around biases, data privacy and the ethical use of AI during its meeting at NAR NXT, The REALTOR® Experience, in Anaheim, California.

But Why?

Many say that AI has the potential to transform humanity—or destroy it. If that sounds like hyperbole, you’ll want to note that by “many” we mean tech leaders, scientists and most of the “godfathers of AI” development who agree that the next generation of AI—artificial general intelligence (AGI)—will look like sci-fi movies in real life, with AI systems capable of any task human beings can perform.

Undoubtedly, safety, trust and transparency issues must be grappled with as OpenAI (and others) develop new technologies. ChatGPT, like any groundbreaking tool, is only as good as the people behind it—and how users use it. As real estate agents and brokers, you must ensure that your technology is safe, secure and ethical. For example, neighborhood descriptions that violate fair housing regulations don’t help you build and maintain your business. Every tool you use must be accurate and true for your purposes.

This also touches on the reasons agents who are REALTORS® have ethical standards and codes of conduct to protect you, your business and your clients.

Forging Ahead

Governments worldwide are grappling with how to regulate AI to keep everyone safe, but those regulations won’t be adopted and implemented quickly. In the meantime, it’s crucial for real estate professionals to use AI tools knowledgeably and with a full understanding. Avoid blind trust and keep an eye on what’s happening behind the scenes—it's necessary with tools such as AI, where we truly don’t yet know what we don’t know.


Real Estate Technology

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