Generative AI is already impacting the real world as we know it today, like a sharp knife without the user feeling it cut. OpenAI’s ChatGPT is acclaimed to be the technology that powers it, and although there is an ongoing debate of whether it is an overblown parlor trick or a dangerous disruption, it is true that this technology is already powerful enough to cause significant changes across the working world.
Social, white-collar and knowledge workers are amongst those most at risk from the changes this technology can bring, as it is much easier to create virtual sophists or intelligent bots to interact with their surroundings than to program robots for the same job. This progress recalls the same mass extinction of dinosaurs with the meteor break-through, for those affected by the emerging generative AI, as it feels both momentous, world altering and incomprehensible all at once.
AI is already being embedded in workflow and products, as it is good at corporate-speak, and generates satisfactory marketing-copy. However, while these uses may feel innocuous in the face of the actual impact it could have, the truth is that it’s slowly and surely replacing human-level jobs and functions. Places like retail outlets are a testament to that, as the need for checkout staff has been reduced to a fraction of its former demands after the introduction of self-checkout machines.
Recognizing the advancements made by generative AI, companies need to foresee and incorporate this technology into their strategies while they still can. Its up to them to decide how to use AI: as a time-saving and productivity-helper, or a genuine replacement and threat to their current workforce. The danger is that, at first, it will be indistinguishable from the real thing until it’s too late, and much like the printing press, the automobile, the computer, smartphones and the internet, generative AI will break through and create a seismic shift in the workings of the world.