I have never seen a new technology have such an immediate social and cultural impact as artificial intelligence has. It’s as if a stranger rang my doorbell and sat in my favorite chair before I could say, “Can I help you?”
The intriguing part is that it’s not so much that A.I. has done anything yet. No jobs have been lost, careers destroyed, or nations overtaken by the robot overlords. It’s just that the thought of A.I. scares the hell out of people.
Cashiers who have watched the proliferation of self-checkout lanes over the last decade or two have no illusions about their occupations. They know it is just a matter of time before there will be no need for humans to take my money. Robots will do just fine.
On the other hand, reporters, writers, and researchers have never worried about A.I. They have been the ones writing about other people’s misfortunes.
Now with ChatGPT, they can see that their once-secure professions will be at risk as A.I. begins to do more profound research, faster analysis, and quality wordsmithing. ChatGPT can write an article with greater accuracy and depth for less money than they can.
So, what is the future of A.I., and how will it impact all of us? According to Bloomberg writer Bryce Baschuk in his article, “Tech, A.I. Driving Job Changes for Nearly a Quarter of All Workers,” stipulates:
Over the next five years, nearly a quarter of all jobs will change as a result of AI, digitization and other economic developments like the green energy transition and supply chain re-shoring, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum in Geneva on Monday.
He goes on to say:
Some 75% of surveyed companies said they expect to adopt AI technologies over the next five years, which they predict will eliminate up to 26 million jobs in record-keeping and administrative positions — think cashiers, ticket clerks, data entry and accounting.
It sounds pretty grim, but Mr. Baschuk predicts more upside than downside. He sees 83 million jobs lost but 69 million jobs created. Those new jobs will pay better than the ones lost. He predicts a lot of hiring in big data analytics, management technologies, and cybersecurity.
As I read all this and pondered the amount of worry being expressed, I thought back to my teenage years when I read Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel, “Player Piano.” It was about a future in which all jobs were lost to automation.
So, worrying about A.I. is just the latest permutation of anxiety that technology will destroy humanity through forced idleness. Workers in early 19th century Britain threw their wooden shoes into steam-powered looms because they worried that the looms would display them as workers. The shoes, called sabot, became the root word for sabotage, a work for describing someone who tries to break something so it no longer works.
Here is my prediction: A.I. will not replace humans but will dramatically increase our thinking ability. Technology will mean that we won’t have to carry all of those pocket change thoughts in our heads (where did I leave my keys, what is my great aunt’s phone number, what time is my hair appointment, and more). We won’t have to master equations, and we won’t need to engage in the drudgery of research. Technology will do all of that for us.
The result will be acres and acres of freed-up brain space. I.Q.’s will soar as humans become smarter and more creative.
Future generations won’t be supermen and superwomen, but they will be something close to that. They will be a very different human being than you and me, maybe a new species. That is the ultimate impact that A.I. will have. Pretty cool – pretty scary.
Shopify has incorporated AI into my storebuilder recently, and I for one like it so far. Every time I add a new product to the virtual shelves in my store, I start with a blank template and fill in the blanks: The name of the product, it’s price and weight and part number, who the manufacturer is, product images etc. The hardest part is the description and copy. Every product needs text that sells the product, is search engine friendly, and doesn’t duplicate the copy of any other product, (for which Google will punish you for – among other copywriting crimes – ‘keyword stuffing.’)
After 20 years and thousands of product descriptions, it is getting harder for this old man to write interesting, fresh, yet ‘search engine friendly’ copy about a doll.
Enter Shopify and their ‘built into my template AI.’ Now when it comes time to write the description, all I need do is feed the AI beast a few key words about that particular product, tell it what tone I want it to use, (I usually pick playful or persuasive,) and let ‘er rip. It gives me terrific copy, AND the choices to either keep it, or ‘try again.’ I have been totally amazed at how good and different and easy writing good content has become, and can’t wait to see the future of AI and my online store.
Great article. AI is no longer a futuristic concept, it is here to stay and is already changing the way we live and work. While many people are not aware of how fast AI is disrupting our lives, others are simply fearful of what they don’t understand and hastily jump to create dooming scenarios. However, there are others, like me, who are excited about the endless possibilities and positive impacts that AI can bring, not to mention the easy access we all have to such a powerful tool. Didn’t we live through this in the early 90s when similar concerns were raised about the internet? And here we are, with the good and the bad, living with it.
With the ability to analyze large amounts of data and provide insights and predictions, AI is already transforming the way businesses operate. As you well said, it has the potential to automate many mundane tasks, freeing up time for us to focus on more creative and imaginative projects. As a brand manager, I can see the benefits of using AI to analyze data from different sources, get valuable insight into consumers behavior, preferences, trends, analyze historical data, social media, etc. to help me make data-driven decisions, optimize our marketing efforts, and ultimately make a better product.
Of course, like everything else, we must be mindful, and guardrails are needed to ensure AI is used responsibly. As for jobs, yes, there will be an impact, but this is where we need to be proactive and think of retraining people and creating opportunities around it. Maybe we can use AI for that as well 😉.
I am curious how they reach the conclusion “…ChatGPT can write an article with greater accuracy and depth for less money than they can. …” when the actual technology press is utterly FILLED with example to the contrary? ChatGPT is in no way intelligent – it doesn’t even know what a “question” OR “answer” are – it literally just fills in the most *plausible* text to follow the prompts, based on training from *past* writings – and just the *patterns*, not the *meaning*, of those writings…
I value your perspective. Thank you.
Richard, AI technology has been around longer than most realize. It’s been used in the defense and robotics industries for more than 10 years. Thankfully we’re not at the Terminator movie stage where robots are at war with humans but there is a fear of the potential dangers as AI tech becomes more integrated into our daily lives. That said, the benefits outweigh the negatives and the project I’m involved with “Snorble”, an AI driven platform companion is at the leading edge of kids play, activity & learning. In the coming months Snorble will launch and will disrupt if not change the state of play in the kids space.