Interview with Job van der Voort, CEO and Co-Founder of Remote
ChatGPT is here. It’s new and its potential uses are largely uncharted territory. So should businesses approach it with fear or fervour? Here, Job van der Voort, CEO of Remote, puts the case for trying it out. As he explains, any company that delays evaluation of AI for business is putting its future at risk.
Thank you for making the time to meet us, Mr van der Voort! We’re glad to have you here. Has 2023 been good to you so far?
Yes! It’s an exciting year!
Despite being a few months in, this year has already brought us a lot of growth drivers. We know you’re fond of ChatGPT in particular. What excites you the most about it?
It seems like the first taste of artificial general intelligence (AGI). It’s immediately useful to a very wide range of use cases. The potential seems limitless.
A lot of companies will be quick to shy away from automation, for fear that the “robots will take their jobs”. But this is not the case with Remote. In fact, you encourage employees to find creative and original ways to use ChatGPT within the business. What are some of the ways this has manifested?
I believe it’s part of my duty as a leader to encourage everyone across my business to get proactive and hands-on with it.
One of the ideas we are working on is a bot that helps automate knowledge management. At Remote we help people access employment all over the world, so our teams must be able to answer highly specific questions about employment law, immigration law, and other topics, for each of those countries. We have launched an internal AI chatbot for this use case and are testing and training it to build up its knowledge base. Instead of looking up the information in a database, our team can simply ask a question and help the customer faster.
Why do you think ChatGPT is as popular as it is? From a business standpoint, what are its main advantages?
ChatGPT has caught on in popular culture because it’s both very accessible and very powerful. People have heard about AI for many years but it has been difficult for the average person to try it out and understand how it would apply to their lives. Now, for the first time, we can experience it firsthand and understand what potential it holds.
For a business, it’s instant access to content generation, editing, summarisation and potentially much more.
How about disadvantages, if any?
Large-scale language models like ChatGPT are still in their infancy. We are far from the day where every response can be trusted every time. There are also concerns about what data it has access to and how its output is used. All of these issues must be figured out, but knee-jerk rejection is not the way to do it.
You mentioned that, instead of feeling threatened, a true leader would embrace the innovation this tool is going to stimulate in the coming years. Do you think AI chatbots will be a staple in business processes over the next few years?
Any company that does not consider how to incorporate AI into their business processes very soon probably will not have a long future.
With the many use cases of ChatGPT, what is the best way to apply it in the HR industry? How would you encourage other payroll companies to take advantage of its features?
ChatGPT can be used in a variety of scenarios in HR, payroll, and beyond, so the best way to understand it is to try it out. It can be applied to managing information and answering questions, quickly producing text, and automating repetitive, time-consuming work.
The pandemic showed us that work structures and cultures are more flexible than we think. Where do you see ChatGPT in the future of work?
History has proven several times over that technology has never succeeded in “taking our jobs”. In fact, the opposite is true; it has enabled development of applications and technologies that create entirely new industries and many more jobs. True leadership means exploring what’s next with transparency and proactivity, rather than being anxious or fearful about hypothetical risks.
Job van der Voort is the CEO and co-founder of Remote. Job previously worked as a neuroscientist before leaving academia to become the VP of Product at GitLab, the world’s largest all-remote company, where he hired talent in 67 different countries.