“AI is the most profound technology that humanity will ever develop and work on. It is even more profound than fire or electricity or the internet.” — Sundar Pichai, Google CEO
Artificial Intelligence has been argued for to be a gamechanger in human civilization and development. The ability of machines to process information autonomously, make decisions and give output whether through programmed interventions or by just sharing information for human use or consumption. This potential has been elusive until we recently witnessed the buzz with the ChatGPT. This technological solution has been discussed in various forums as the death of Google in its making which may or may not be true. It however needs to be further developed, refined and optimized to shape the future as we would wish for it considering some technical and accuracy glitches that have been noted. As much as we are amazed by the possibilities, we should also be cautious of the risks posed. Some may not be as outright but as per the cautionary approach by Stephen Hawking, we need to look out and ensure AI becomes a bright spot in human development.
\”Artificial Intelligence (AI) will either be the best thing that\’s ever happened to us, or it will be the worst thing. If we\’re not careful, it very well may be the last thing.\” – Stephen Hawking
In this article, the subject is far from whether it\’s the greatest human invention or the worst but rather what the future looks like for human beings with such advanced technologies. Assuming an individual can ask a question and the AI will be able to generate the right answer and probably give a course of action to take as per the inquiry. Where does this leave the subject matter experts? In a recent article I read from the Medical Affairs Professionals society, where they were noting that ChatGPT was able to give precise and accurate information on medical principles comparable to human experts. This would in some circles threaten some professionals as they fear risking their jobs to these technologies. I am however reluctant to believe this at least in the near future. For start we need human subject matter experts to verify the accuracy of the information being generated by the AI. Trust is critical and at the moment, there still isn\’t much confidence in the tool hence need for human subjects to continue with their work including verifying the accuracy of the output of these technologies.
Looking into the potential and possibilities that AI presents as evidenced by the current buzz with ChatGPT, there is going to be some level of anxiety among the knowledge workers whose place had been stamped in history as this new technology threatens the very precipice of professional prestige. An AI can analyze substantial datasets and give more accurate information compared to your 30-40 years of experience working in the field. What unique attribute will we have? I\’m not a doomsday evangelist and that\’s why I believe this moment is a lightbulb for us to reconfigure what our futures would look like as professionals. I earlier wrote an article on the Hidden Piece in Fourth Industrial Revolution where I argued for data, information and knowledge as the key components. Reflecting on this piece, I am still committed to the potential that lies therein and on a professional side, the case for subject matter experts both as thought leaders and implementers is even greater. These technologies have been trained on substantial data sets which is still an ongoing process to ensure the output is trustable. On this account, the experts working on the backend will continue applying themselves. Considering not all of us can play within this domain, we have to explore other avenues to play our part.
Considering the Open AI tools including ChatGPT will be able to solve our problems in real time by giving the right information per query entered, it means we need more intelligent thinkers who can ask quality questions that help move the human developmental milestones forward. By asking the right questions, we will be able to get the right answers to implement or work with. Question is on how many of us are challenging ourselves to be critical thinkers? The other level where we will need people to play in is at the implementation phase. With all the great answers and solutions, there is still need for someone to guide the implementation even if it is using other technologies to do that. Unfortunately, from time immemorial it has been argued that the greatest drawback to human civilization and development has been inaction and lackluster execution. To be able to harness the potential presented by AI, we need more of implementers to follow through on the recommendations.
As a professional one needs to start thinking of their place in this future. Are you going to be the critical thinker asking the right questions or the implementer executing on the recommendations.
In 2021 when I wrote about The Place of Technology in Our Common Futures, I kept thinking on how crowdsourcing technologies could be put to use to synthesize and analyze the volumes of information/data available online to generate sound arguments as well as solutions to various challenges in the world. At that point I was keen on how Google as a search engine where almost every website ever created features could optimize its backend analytics with clear use cases to generate solutions to various problems. These could end up being the future blockbuster solutions or technologies that we need to leapfrog human civilization and development. This formed the basis of the Social Innovation Hub we curated as Ryculture Health and Social Innovation to establish a University Business Incubator which is in the ICU waiting on a ventilator. On this frontier, I believe thought leaders have the opportunity to shape the course of development of these technologies with clear use cases based on human experiences and needs.
I am excited about this future and expectant on what it stands to bring forth. Other than sit back and wait, I am exploring ways to play a part in this future. What about you?