6 (NEW) ways to think about ChatGPT
2023 is the year of Artificial Intelligence. Worryingly, I’m old enough to remember 2013 also being the year of Artificial Intelligence. Having witnessed the ups and downs of such hyped technologies (hey, remember the Google Glasses?), I know that “obvious” foreseen impacts often end up being less transformational than expected. It is the second-degree effects which always catch us by surprise.
We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.
With this in mind, below are 6 ideas I believe will matter more in 5 years than any white-collar worker losing their job.
Content is not what is created, but rather the act of creation
When all content is commoditized, and thus infinite, it becomes worthless. In such a world, producing efforts to create content which has been made worthless by algorithms gives value to the effort itself. Creation and consumption of content will be simultaneous because the creation IS the content.
We do not go gentle into that good night. In a ChatGPT world, the act of writing will itself be an act of rebellion, worthy of praise.
Our imagined futures resemble our remembered pasts — all bets on the future should be off
When asked about customer input in the development of the Ford Model T, Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
ChatGPT is not a Model T. It’s a Ferrari. And we have no idea where it will take us. Any attempt to guess based on past experiences will be redundant: we learn from history, which is itself the study of surprises. In such an environment, plans are useless, planning is key.
Technology is good, products are better
Generative AIs are not new. They were first theorized of in 1985, back when a neural network was still called a Boltzmann machine. But old technology has been made into new products, and that has made all the difference.
Making ChatGPT accessible for free to anyone with a browser is what made it seem revolutionary. Let that be a lesson to entrepreneurs keeping it close to the chest. If you have faith in your product… let the world have it.
AI won’t replace Search… but it will spoil Search
All the talk of ChatGPT replacing Google are silly. You don’t go to Google only for information. You also go there for actions : buying tickets, booking a restaurant, accessing your emails.
ChatGPT, may not replace Google, but it is likely to make it unusable. If the search engine is inundated with seemingly infinite content for specific queries, how is it to learn and know which are best? How can its customers trust it in any way to propose the right actionable ressources? This is existential, not ChatGPT being used to learn when Napoleon’s birthday was.
As words become commoditized, trusted brand become evermore important
As content becomes commoditized (and thus infinite), trust of its quality through its source will matter immensely. That means content producers need to investigate a niche, understand it, and craft an original message that overshoots the material world and squarely lands in the realm of emotion, which cannot be reproduced.
If that sounds like authenticity, trust your instincts.
In the 1950s, compilers were considered AI — historical context matters
We once saw simple compilers / calculators / Excel as forms of Artificial Intelligence. The world is (somehow) still standing. Though we cannot predict where a transformative technology will take us, it may be wise to avoid complete panic when we see how often we’ve panicked through the past 70 years of computing.
At the end of the day, technology merely holds a dark mirror to society, its triumphs and its inequalities. Maybe, just maybe, the best thing to come from ChatGPT won’t be better job ads, but rather a better understanding of ourselves.
Good luck out there.