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Is AI out to eat your lunch?
If you’re one of the bajillion people who have played around with ChatGPT over the last three months, you would probably have noticed something important. That it’s pretty friggin’ cool. And a nice change from the overpriced jpegs that were the hype of 2021 (if you know NFTs you’ll know what I mean).
But natural language models, deep learning, and machine learning have been around for a while now. The idea isn’t new or anything. So why are so many people staring at their screens and saying, “holy shit”?
What’s really shocked me isn’t ChatGPT itself, but how fast things have started moving since its launch. They’ve already raised loads of money from Microsoft. Just a couple of days ago (from the time I wrote this), Microsoft launched a ChatGPT-powered chatbot, the chatbot apparently wanted to destroy humanity, and had to be put on a leash. Ok, no big deal.
Although this isn’t Artificial Intelligence (AI) suddenly leaping from completely useless insurance company chatbots to passing an operations management or medical licensing exam (which ChatGPT has apparently done), the technology has been iterating for years.
But it does seem like we’ve hit some kind of inflection point, or at least a perceived inflection point.
Beyond the obvious existential threat that this technology has for our species, there’s been a lot of concern about what this all means…
Is it woke?
Is it gaslighting me?
Is it subtly manipulating my cognitive biases in ways that I couldn’t possibly understand?
Is it politically biased?
Look, yes, probably. Will this alone destroy our society? Yeah, it could. Should we ignore it? No, probably not. I don’t want to die.
But from a less existential perspective, and in a more immediate way, it does threaten our jobs. Why would you pay a human to design something for you, or write something for you, when a computer could do it better, faster, and cheaper?
Now, admittedly, we’re not quite at the “better” part yet. But with the speed that we’re moving, it’s easy to see we’re not far away.
So what should you do if you’re worried about how this neat piece of tech might replace millions of workers around the world, including yourself?
People would have said the same thing about computers putting typists out of work, or email putting post office workers out of work. I was once told at a previous firm that if we outsourced our work, then the people working at the firm could lose their jobs. GS outsources most of our work, and we still have our jobs (and can’t seem to hire enough people).
The people who adapt will still have jobs, and the jobs will be more interesting than the ones before. If you try and sabotage change, turn away from it, or ignore it, you’re just going to end up doing a job that nobody does anymore.
It’s an interesting and difficult conversation to have, but an important one.
So, the call to action is to move fast and use these tools yourself.
In the 1990s, it was a competitive advantage to have email and know how to search the internet. Knowing how to use AI tools to research or create compelling work will set you apart from the competition tomorrow. Use them to do your work for you. Ask ChatGPT questions instead of just googling (but do fact-check your answers). You’ll pick up a skill that not many people have, and companies are hiring for.
Plus, you might get a sense of when the looming apocalypse is going to happen.