Like rain, when it falls, everything gets wet. And when it rains a lot, the ground around you can sink you deep into the mud. Such is the case; each passing day that confirms it, it’s raining Artificial Intelligence (AI). And the real downpour is about to drop golf ball-sized hail on us.
Here’s the promise from the newest version of AI called Large Language Models (LLM). Several tech companies are racing to deploy their own LLM versions because given the recent release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT 4.0 the rate of potential job disruption is exploding with the promise to forever increase the productivity of every human function. And nobody wants to miss that.
In turn, AI preachers say it’s a renaissance that will open the gates of ethereal human pleasure, allow us to work 10x faster and cheaper forevermore. That sounds perfect, doesn’t it? The only downside is there may not be anyone left around to care about it. But this isn’t a sci-fi film.
Generative Artificial Intelligence as it’s called is still just a toddler, but a popular one as evidenced by the record setting 100 million new users who downloaded OpenAI’s ChatGPT AI software since its first widespread launch last November ‘22. And there’s been nothing like it since Tiktok captured the attention of millions when it went viral back in 2016. But this feels different. And I’m not alone.
Make no mistake, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us according to the World Economic Forum.org. And like the last three there is a coming wet that will likely require millions of workers to reskill using AI or be left behind in it.
In a recent Goldman Sachs analyst study: The Potentially Large Effects of A.I. upwards of two-thirds of all jobs, 100 million U.S. jobs are exposed and at risk to AI they say, and this time it’s not just the older workers’ heads on the block. Jobs from attorneys to interns and a long list of others are all on muddy wet ground.
In my last article Ever Heard of ChatGPT for Executives? we discussed the release of ChatGPT 3.5 AI and listed the competitive players fighting for AI dominance, along with the potential impact of AI to displace workers. I also tested it, and it passed as a professional services consultant rendering me useless in less than 4 seconds. Just kidding, it was less than 3 seconds.
Worse for me still in the last two months OpenAI went and did it again by releasing a newer and more improved version, ChatGPT 4.0, with direct access to the internet, making it even more accurate and impressive passing even more professional exams and increasing its output accuracy.
In business when wisdom calls for a pause to wait and gather more information, it’s generally called a “fast follower.” That strategy suggests not to rush into anything. Let the kids go first. Because in business jumping on the latest roller coaster ride at the business park makes no sense when the gut-wrenching twirls end with you back to where you started, and with messed up hair!
But this time the wisdom of waiting is the wrong call because experts say the AI roller coaster has not only left the station, but it’s also never coming back, more like a SpaceX rocket to Mars with you and your business strapped to the outside.
Still. Of those I asked, most are playing the waiting game, keeping one eye on ChatGPT developments the other on everything else. Keep in mind unless somebody stops it, AI is rapidly altering the employment landscape, sending shock waves across many white collar professional and creative jobs unexpectedly in the line of fire.
For business owners and middle market CEOs it’s not a matter of taking a back seat and surviving through yet another major transformational roller coaster ride in business and human evolution, it’s potentially an existential war, and those slow to make plans for it are needlessly amplifying their risk exposure to it.
Remember the dotcom wars in the late 1990s? These were the early days of the internet when many brick-and-mortar companies suddenly found themselves caught off guard. They simply waited too long to react to this game-changing new tech. And by the time the bell rang it cost millions more in catch-up money to make up for lost time.
And here we are again.
In a recent podcast Max Tegmark, physicist and AI researcher at MIT and author of Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence says it may already be too late for many businesses and “if you’re in a situation where your company is going to get screwed by other companies
[using advanced AI]
you’re putting people in a very hard situation.” Meaning like the early days of the internet, you can’t sit on your hands and wait this one out.
“Right now, we’re at a fork in the road, this is the most important fork humanity has reached in the last 100,000 years,” says Tegmark, and we better get it right, or it’s a suicide race he says. This is part of the recent argument for the sake of humanity to halt AI releases for 6 months. Several innovators like Elon Musk have signed an open letter to halt all AI development until government and regulators can catch up.
Part of this reasoning comes from Google who thinks two-thirds of all jobs will be impacted by AI models in the coming years. Sundar Pichai CEO Google says “this is going to impact every product across every company” as super-powered AI assistants work alongside us to enhance our productivity.
Still. There are growing pains. They’re called “hallucinations,” whereby LLM models can output results that are flatly wrong. In a recent experiment conducted by CBS news 60-Minutes they asked Google’s Chatbot, called BARD a competitor LLM to OpenAI ChatGPT, about inflation. BARD wrote a comprehensive economics essay in seconds, and even recommended 5 books to read. But on closer inspection the books didn’t exist! BARD simply fabricated the titles. And no one knows why. That’s a serious problem to say the least Google admits.
But these are early days says Pichai, and improvements underway will correct these flaws. Still the most at-risk jobs are “knowledge workers” he says like doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, writers, content creators, and software designers. Basically, all of us who will soon be “assisted” by AI technology.
Should the government help?
Without controls bad actors can manipulate AI and wreak havoc. Or worse. If a runaway AI itself decides humans are a wasteful useless menace and must be destroyed, then what? Until now these dreadful possibilities were only seen on the big screen. It seems that has changed. As mentioned, there are loud warnings being voiced by industry pros. Center for Humane Technology founder Tristan Harris says “this is a different class of technology. It’s the speed of deployment that’s the problem. Because “no one is building the guardrails, and we’re putting it out there before we know it’s safe.”
It’s not. But while Congress plays catch-up, suggested remedies are popping up. They include a Universal AI Constitution, or creating a self-regulating industry watchdog with guidelines for developers to adhere to, not unlike the 2019 call for a global moratorium on CRISPR DNA gene editing and human cloning.
But this isn’t gene splicing in a pharma lab. AI is now at the fingertips of every human on Earth, bad actors big and small included. And with the cat out of the bag many like Elon Musk fear the technology may already be unstoppable at this point. Although Mr. Musk does often exaggerate our human frailties.
So then. What should a CEO and business leader do right now?
Pretend LLM AI tech is another internet-type of evolution and get it right this time, stay ahead of it. Follow the links in this article and learn all you can. And of course, Make a plan.
My advice is to immediately set up an AI Evaluation Task Force with a team leader in each functional area of your business to study and benchmark where you are on the AI exposure spectrum. Reference the Goldman Sachs analyst study for more line-item details.
I suggest a S.W.O.T. analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats both internal and external) as the baseline framework for studying the impact of AI on the business. Then go deeper, job by job.
No surprise. The GS AI report projects a significant impact across nearly every job function in nearly every department including:
- Accounting & Finance
- Advertising & Marketing
- Customer service
- Human Resources
- IT Systems & Security
- Research & Development
- Sales & New Business Development
Nothing like this has happened since the PC was invented. This is why you need a focused effort to go deep, examine and report back. Once you have a better idea of what you’re up against you can adopt, adapt, or ignore. It’s your choice.
In the meanwhile, take a closer look at your industry and competitors’ adoption rates of different AI applications. See how you compare. It should be early days, giving you a chance to dodge the heavy rain, and see what new skills and opportunities are coming down at you.
In any event, it’s not the time for the wary wisdom of wait and see. This is the time for real action in real time, before you need expensive consultants to fix things again. And if you need help getting started, do what I did, ask ChatGPT 4.0 for assistance. The answers might just ring that bell for you.
Written by Rick Andrade.