I can’t decide whether I should be excited or terrified by the current pace of AI developments. On thinking about it, the answer is yes.
A wave is coming. If you don’t learn to surf now, you will be swallowed up and left for nothing. The wave is AI.
This isn’t true
It is true that a lot of people will make a lot of money from AI. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t fundamentally change most industries. However, this doesn’t mean you have to swim with the tide (I’m done with sea metaphors now). If you are aware of the new possibilities, it’ll work out just fine.
You don’t have to retrain in AI
If AI is the area you find most interesting, please do pursue it. The world needs your passion and creativity. If it’s not for you, which will be the case for most people, that’s fine too. Continue doing what you’ve always done. Follow your instincts. Use your unique combination of talents (and it is unique, no one has your lived experience) however you are driven to. Just maintain a keen focus on how you will use them to bring value to the world. Or, don’t. You don’t have to bring anything to anyone if that’s not what drives you.
We have always progressed
Humans have an immense capacity to change and adapt. Just look at how most people, though often traumatised by it, made it out the other side of the pandemic intact.
Open source changed software development for the better. This was a positive development. Starting a new software company was once prohibitively expensive and time-consuming. Then suddenly, you didn’t need to write every low-level component yourself. Whole packages existed to solve recurring problems. Progress accelerated.
Just as industrialisation was a huge change catalyst, the internet, smartphones, and now AI are part of the progress of nature. AI has transformed various industries such as the automotive industry with self-driving cars or the retail industry with AI-powered chatbots improving customer service.
How to survive?
Smart, talented, curious people will always prosper. As long as the thing that drives you is a desire to create and bring new things into existence that didn’t exist before, you’ll flourish, whatever comes.
Tools change. Human creations continue, but in new, previously impossible forms.
Humans can human
In his book Deep Medicine, Eric Topol argues that while AI will take over many aspects of analysis, prediction, and treatment, doctors will be able to return to the more human-centric aspects of their profession, which bureaucracy has eroded. By providing real human warmth and care, healthcare professionals can improve patient outcomes and experiences.
This can be true for almost all industries. In finance, AI-powered tools are helping with fraud detection and portfolio management, allowing financial advisors to focus on building relationships with clients and providing personalised advice.
User satisfaction will be more important than ever. If we can remove the mundane and the bureaucratic from our remit and leave it to the machines, an exciting possibility emerges. We can regain some of what we’ve lost. By leveraging this new breed of advanced computation, we can lean into what it lacks: our humanity. With the release from the admin burden, we will be able to achieve more, faster than ever.
Don’t hide, embrace
Hiding is not the answer. Shutting off to the world around and hoping it will all go away won’t help. You can smash as many Spinning Jennies as you like; the mills are never going to be the same.
A world of new possibilities is coming. It doesn’t matter whether it starts with a stick of butter or a million GPUs. Keep up to date. Experiment. Flow. Connect. Concentrate on what you want to bring to the universe and use whatever the best tool available for you is.
I wrote this on a plane. Seeing as I’m writing about AI, I thought I’d practice what I’m preaching. I used GPT-4 as my editor; below is the starting prompt I used to tweak the text.
You are my copy editor. Please provider grammatical and structural improvement suggestions for the below text.
Write edits like this: [text to remove»new text], so I can see what changes are suggested. You must not change the overall tone or style, you must not make significant changes, it must appear to be written by me with the same emphasis. Your goal is to make the writing more easy to read and engaging and to point out any major inaccuracies or omissions.
The text is written in markdown.
Text below: …