Updated: Oct 19
Every week there’s a new “revolutionary” development in the world of AI, poised to “completely transform the way we work”.
However, most of these will fail to have as immediate of an impact on the day-to-day life of McGill students as Slack’s new slate of AI-powered features. This article explores the platform’s new capabilities and highlights why early adoption of such features can set the groundwork for successful collaboration on campus and beyond.
What is Slack, anyways?
For the uninitiated, Slack is a messaging and collaboration app used by many companies as their primary internal communication platform. It provides a more casual conversation setting for co-workers than email and includes additional productivity features such as calls, file uploads, and third party plugins. Many McGill student groups use Slack as their primary communication channel due to its ease-of-use and applicability after graduation.
Changing the Game: Slack's AI-Powered Features
Slack has recently made significant strides in incorporating AI into its functionality. One of its notable innovations is the introduction of AI-powered conversation summaries. This feature leverages techniques based in Natural Language Processing, a field of study within AI. It can automatically generate concise summaries of discussions, allowing team members who missed the conversation to quickly get up to speed, and also serves as a way to highlight key insights and action items. This not only promotes streamlined communication, but also enables effective collaboration even for teams spread across different time zones.
Its new product offering will also allow teams to integrate pre-built AI models in the form of partner-built apps such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Anthropic’s Claude.
This brings the massive productivity benefits of generative AI to the place where teams are spending a lot of their time. A recent trend in the generative AI space is that larger companies are building custom ChatGPT-like internal tools, fine-tuned on the companies’ existing documents and knowledge base. Employees will then be able to query this model and access all the work the company has already done in a conversational manner. Employers are hoping to save on repeated work, time spent querying traditional databases, and streamlining workflows.
What This Means for McGill Students
These AI-powered tools can be of particular interest and value to university students. Understanding and harnessing the potential of these new features during their on-campus involvement can give students a competitive edge during job interviews and add value to their internships. Furthermore, staying up-to-date with tech trends and becoming proficient in new AI-powered tools is the best way students can keep their skills relevant in a very dynamic and ever-evolving work environment.
Looking Beyond Slack: AI Integration on the Horizon
As we witness Slack's AI-powered transformation, we must recognize that this trend extends far beyond a single platform. AI integration is poised to redefine collaboration across various platforms in the near future. Companies are realizing the potential of AI to enhance productivity, automate tasks, and optimize decision-making processes.
Mastering these AI-powered tools can differentiate individuals and teams in an increasingly competitive business landscape. By embracing innovation and fostering a habit of self-education, students can build a prosperous future for themselves, both personally and professionally.