When encountering artificial intelligence (AI), or ChatGPT, everyone’s first thought is that this can save them time and energy. We live in a world of instant gratification, and many want everything to happen immediately. Still, others want the good, old-fashioned research-driven approach and don’t accept the newer way of doing things. 

“AI tools are here to stay, so instead of seeing it as a threat, it should be seen as an asset, but one that supports cognitive growth and memory function rather than replacing it,” says Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy & Evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa. 

In the 1950s, it was believed that the average person kept seven items in their working memory; today, it is believed that this has gone down to four.   

Academic papers and analyses indicate that people have reduced memory due to an overreliance on technology, sometimes known as the Google effect. 

Educators and researchers are concerned about the impact of technology, and now AI, on cognitive behaviour and memory retention. However, it is also balanced by research that has pointed out that humans have been outsourcing their memory to various materials and solutions for centuries. Paper, parchment, papyrus, and wood are some prime examples. Modern technology is no different.  

Dr. Louis Fick, a well-known psychologist who developed online psychometric integrity tests, believes that supporting an individual’s memory should be considered in a positive light. Still, he believes we should question the integrity of what people do with the tools to support their memory. The probability that people rely too much on supportive technology, like AI or Chat-GPT, is relatively high considering the experience we have of human behaviour in general. This can represent a negative response to the existence and the use of AI and Chat-GPT, especially how they may develop in the future. He is of the opinion that people will get more lax over time and that there will be a further drop in the effective working memory of the human – going even lower than the four items referred to in the 1950’s.   

The abuse of the Chat-GPT to enhance his/her own image and to resort, for example, to plagiarism, is another negative possibility considering the drop in the general integrity-status of the human being – this probability is strongly related to different cultures in the world. Research has already proved that there is a high correlation between low integrity and the degree of abuse of whatever ‘tool’ is available to him/her. We should be alert to these possibilities and psychometric tests will assist us in doing just that! 

Research shows that technology is both an enabler and an inhibitor of human memory. However, the impact of using technology to support our memory does not lie in the actual use of it but rather in the dependence on it, where it could become the sole source of information and writing.   

Sonya Skipp, CEO, of iFacts says that regardless of the many tools people in the workplace make use of to enhance performance, the company needs to understand the intention of its employees. Sadly, companies still consider a criminal record check as the employee screening tool of choice but Skipp recommends that the risk profile of every position should be considered and a tailor-made programme should be developed to ensure a thorough vetting process is followed and psychometric assessments are an essential element and should be used to assess the integrity of potential and existing employees. 

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