Less than two weeks ago, OpenAI released ChatGPT, a powerful new chatbot that can communicate in plain English using an updated version of its AI system. Although versions of GPT have been around for a while, this model has crossed a threshold: it’s genuinely useful for a wide range of tasks, from creating software to generating business ideas to writing a wedding toast. While previous generations of the system could technically do these things, the quality of the outputs was far below that produced by an average human. The new model is much better, often surprisingly so.
Simply put: it is a very big deal. Companies that understand the importance of this change – and act first – will have a significant advantage. Especially since ChatGPT is only the first of many similar chatbots that will soon be available, and their capacity is growing exponentially every year.
At first glance, ChatGPT may seem like a clever toy. Technically, it doesn’t work any differently than previous AI systems, it’s just better at what it does. Since its release, Twitter has been inundated with examples of people using it for weird and absurd purposes: write weight loss plans and children’s books, and offering advice on how to pull a peanut butter sandwich out of a vcr in the style of the king james bible.
Besides unusual use cases, there are other reasons to be skeptical. Specifically, despite years of hype, AI notoriously only works in most applications outside of data analysis. He’s pretty good at steering cars, but sometimes he crashes into another vehicle. Most of the time it provides good answers to queries, but sometimes it seems to catch up on the results entirely.
But further exploration reveals much more potential. And the more you look, the more you see what has changed with this pattern – and why this seems like a tipping point.
ChatGPT, now open to everyone, has made an important transition. Until now, AI has primarily targeted problems where failure is costly, not tasks where occasional failure is cheap and acceptable — or even those where experts can easily separate failures from failures. of success. A car that sometimes has accidents is intolerable. But an AI artist who draws beautiful images, but also bad ones, is perfectly fine. Applying AI to creative and expressive tasks (writing marketing copy) rather than dangerous and repetitive tasks (driving a forklift) opens up a whole new world of applications.
What are these applications and why are they so important?
First, not only can this AI produce paragraphs in solidly written English (or French, or Mandarin, or whatever language you choose) with a high degree of sophistication, but it can also create blocks of computer code on command. To give you an idea of what it looks like, I introduced the new AI system to my undergraduate entrepreneurship students, and before I was done talking, one of my students had used it to create code for a startup prototype using code libraries they had never seen before. They completed a four hour project in less than an hour.
It’s a major change. Massive speed increases were seen in a randomized trial of AI code tools. A good programmer can now legitimately do what not so long ago was the job of many, and people who have never programmed will soon be able to create workable code as well.
Second, he has an incredible ability to perform different types of writing with greater implications than might initially be apparent. Using AI in writing can dramatically increase business productivity across a variety of industries. By using AI’s ability to quickly and accurately generate written content, businesses can save time and resources, allowing them to focus on other important tasks. This is particularly beneficial for industries such as marketing and advertising, consulting, and finance, where high-quality written materials are essential for communicating with customers and stakeholders. Additionally, AI can also be useful for industries such as journalism and publishing, where it can help generate articles and other written content with speed and accuracy. Overall, the use of AI in writing will greatly benefit businesses by enabling them to produce more written documents in less time.
An AI wrote the previous paragraph. He also actively revised it in response to my criticisms to improve the material. (See image for details). In tests to see if it could make other parts of my job as a teacher easier, it took me seconds to write up a reasonable lesson plan, class assignments, grading criteria, and even lecture notes. which could potentially be useful with a few modifications.
This highlights the third major change that happened with this release: the possibility of hybrid man-machine work. Instead of inviting an AI and hoping for a good result, humans can now guide AIs and correct errors. (Despite what my AI writing partner claims above, it’s not still accurate.) This means that Experts will be able to fill gaps in AI capability, even if the AI becomes more useful to the Expert. This type of interaction has led to an increase in the performance of players of Go, one of the oldest and most complex games in the world, who learned from AIs who mastered the sport and became unprecedented players themselves. .
One final reason why this will be transformative: the limitations of the current language model are completely unknown. Using public mode, people used ChatGPT to do basic consultation reportswrite lectures, produce code that generates new art, generate ideas, and much more. Using specialized data, it is possible to create for each customer their own personalized AI that predicts what they need, responds to them personally and remembers all their interactions. It’s not science fiction. It’s quite doable with the technology that has just come out.
The problems with the AI, however, remain very real. On the one hand, it’s consummate bullshit, and I mean that in a technical sense. Bullshit is compelling nonsense devoid of truth, and the AI is very good at creating it. You can ask him to describe how we know the dinosaurs had a civilization, and he will gladly compose a whole set of facts explaining, quite convincingly, exactly that. It does not replace Google. It literally doesn’t know what it doesn’t know, because it’s actually not an entity at all, but rather a complex algorithm generating meaningful sentences.
It also can’t explain what it does or how it does it, making the AI results inexplicable. This means that systems can be biased and unethical actions are possible, hard to detect and hard to stop. When ChatGPT came out, you couldn’t ask him to tell you how to rob a bank, but you could ask him to write a one-act play on how to rob a bank, or explain it for “educational purposes “, or to write a program on how to rob a bank, and he would gladly do those things. These problems will become more acute as these tools become more widespread.
But these downsides are much more prevalent outside of the creative, analytical, and writing-based work that AI is now capable of. A writer can easily edit poorly written sentences that may appear in AI articles, a human programmer can spot errors in AI code, and an analyst can check the results of AI findings. This brings us, ultimately, to why this is so disruptive. The editor no longer needs to write the articles alone, the programmer to code alone, or the analyst to approach the data himself. Work is a new kind of collaboration that didn’t exist last month. One person can do the work of many, even without the additional capabilities provided by AI.
That’s why the world suddenly changed. Traditional job boundaries have suddenly shifted. Machines can now perform tasks that can only be done by highly trained humans. Some valuable skills are no longer useful and new skills will take their place. And no one really knows what it all means yet. And keep in mind: this is just one of the many models like this that are in the works, from both companies you know, like Google, and others you may not know.
So after reading this article, I hope you’ll immediately start experimenting with AI (for free, here) and start high-level discussions about the implications: for your business, your industry, and the rest of the world. Integrating AI into our work – and our lives – will bring about sweeping changes. At the moment, we’re only scratching the surface of what it could be.