The rise of AI: Navigating the second industrial revolution

The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has brought about a paradigm shift, transforming industries and altering the way we approach knowledge work. Mirroring the disruptive impact of the first industrial revolution, which replaced human and animal power with machines, AI technology will eventually displace humans from knowledge work in unprecedented ways

Should you be frightened? Will a robot really take your job?

Yes, you’d better believe it.

AI will steal just about every job – or steal aspects of every job.

To set the stage, AI technologies, despite their name, display evidence of humanlike intelligence. But the tech has as much in common with human intelligence as aeroplanes have with birds. Or as drones have in common with a bumblebee.

They’re powerful tools, but they’re not perfect replicas of human thought.

We are in a second industrial revolution and people need to be worried for one major reason; those driving this revolution care about people as much as they cared about them during the first revolution – very little.

A prime example of AI in action is ChatGPT, a Large Language Model (LLM) that processes trillions of tokens from the vast sea of information on the internet.

I’ve used this tool for brainstorming, exploring different writing styles, and maintaining a consistent content schedule. While ChatGPT is not yet capable of achieving writing excellence, it undoubtedly elevates the level of writing for many users.

But here’s where you need to be very cautious. People prompt ChatGPT to produce output and that output is reworked by a human for publication. However, ChatGPT is prone to what its makers call “hallucinations” but what we’d refer to as lying – or simply making things up. 

ChatGPT might be your new obsession but it is also the new engine for producing spam content, misinformation and disinformation at scale.

AI technology doesn’t stop at text. I’ve seen firsthand how Dall-E, an AI tool that combines text and images, creates digital images based on textual descriptions. It’s based on an earlier version of ChatGPT with extra training and input from images. It can also duplicate an artist’s style. Dall-E can generate thought-provoking and artistically styled output, showcasing the potential for AI to enhance creativity.

Is creativity safe? No, I don’t believe it is. There’s a sub-genre called Generative AI (for example, Midjourney) which will be able to do the same thing with fiction.

In my software development work, I’ve found GitHub Copilot to be a valuable asset. It manages a decent job of producing code. But it also gets it wrong. The tech will get better but will it ever be 100 percent perfect? I very much doubt it.

The business world is also harnessing AI for research acceleration. Computational models augmented with AI enable researchers to explore vast problem spaces and surface interesting results for human review.

Now, I don’t expect AI to be winning any Nobel Prizes anytime soon. But it does help streamline the discovery process. Just keep in mind, many AI solutions deployed in the industry do suffer from accuracy drift over time.

 It will be interesting to see what happens when the next versions of ChatGPT get trained on data produced by its predecessors. That said, as a business professional and an individual, you simply can’t afford to ignore AI technology.

Competitors who leverage AI effectively will leave others struggling to keep up. I recommend experimenting with AI systems, using them to augment intelligence, automate knowledge work, and extend research capabilities. Embrace it, find ways to use AI to your advantage. Imagine the impact of a consistent 10 percent productivity growth!

The problem I see with businesses trying to use AI is they’re trying to replace human intelligence. What we need to do is say this is “augmenting our intelligence” rather than replacing intelligence.

But with great power comes great responsibility. The immense amount of data required for training AI systems, like ChatGPT, raises crucial questions about data ownership and usage. Big Tech companies are eager to profit from this data without providing any benefit to its creators, as demonstrated by Google’s recent petition to relax Australian copyright law.

As AI becomes more prevalent in business and customer interactions, we must address these ethical concerns and ensure that human preferences are respected.

Businesses will inevitably incorporate AI into their customer interactions. ChatGPT, being a chatbot, exemplifies how AI can streamline communications and support human interactions. However, some tasks may still require a human touch due to customer preferences.

Here are some “take home” thoughts:

The good news is we’re ahead of the curve. We need to reign in what corporations are doing with AI and the way it’s being used. We also need to identify when something is generated by AI;  you can produce misinformation at a huge scale with these tools.

Going forward, keep being unique and continue questioning things – that’s going to be your success.

And while the journey is going to be exciting, never forget: we are not here to serve big tech, we’re here to serve humanity.

Author: Klaus Krauter

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