Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the way we live and work, and it has the potential to revolutionize the entire knowledge economy. The development of AI algorithms and systems has been rapid and impactful, leading to the creation of new and more advanced AI systems, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT. ChatGPT is a highly advanced AI language model that can understand and generate human-like text, making it one of the most powerful AI systems available today. As AI continues to progress, it will have a profound impact on the way we acquire, process, and use information. In this blog post, we’ll explore the potential of AI to disrupt the knowledge economy and discuss how organizations and individuals can prepare for the change.
We didn’t write the above paragraph. Nobody did. It was written by ChatGPT. Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last few months, you’ve probably heard about this disruptive technology. It appears that ChatGPT has become the “killer app” for the technology of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “killer app”, it is defined by Merriam Webster as “a computer application of such great value or popularity that it assures the success of the technology with which it is associated”. For example, some of you may remember how, in the late 90’s, programs like Napster and Google transformed the internet from an upstart technology into the unavoidable part of life that it is today. Similarly, social networking apps like Instagram made everyone want smartphones with cameras.
ChatGPT appears to be the killer app for AI. It’s making waves across the media landscape, the school system, and pretty much everywhere. Consequently, we decided to chime in on the conversation. We’ll cover ChatGPT itself, the underlying technology of AI, and then we’ll opine on the way that AI will transform the economy in the very near future.
What Is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT was built by a private San Francisco based think-tank called OpenAI. OpenAI was founded by a handful of Silicon Valley heavyweights (Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, et al) as a research lab aimed at creating next-level applications for deep learning and artificial intelligence. Their first major achievement was the development of the Generative Pre-trained Transformer language, or “GPT”. The goal of GPT was to teach computers to create human-like text. How did they go about doing this?
The way GPT works are that it compiles a LOT of text into a database. They took as much text as they could from all the websites in existence, plus 196,000 digitized books. This totaled 175 Terabytes of data which equates to 14.5 Billion pages of text. From all this data, they comprised a probabilistic model that determines what words are most likely to follow a certain phrase.
For example, if I were to type in “My head hurts because last night…”, the program would:
- Look through all 14.5 billion pages of text to find all the times that the words “My head hurt because last night…” was used.
- Take the phrase that follows it, and put it into a data table.
- At the end, see which phrase came up the most,
- Then return it as the most likely next phrase in that sentence, which, in our example, would most likely be something like “… I drank too much.”
Of course, this is a simplified example. The actual GPT model takes into account a lot more factors, however it is based on this same general concept of writing natural-sounding language based on what has been written in the past.
ChatGPT, as you can probably deduce based on its name, is an experimental chat application based on GPT technology. The idea being that a user could type in anything and the program would write as much on this topic as the user wants. It was launched on November 30, 2022, and was an immediate hit. It grew to 57 million users in the first month. No application in internet history has ever grown that fast.
How Has ChatGPT Changed The World So Far?
It’s probably safe to say that everyone has an opinion about ChatGPT. Tech buffs are thrilled to see AI come of age. For example, tech entrepreneur Aaron Levie recently tweeted “ChatGPT is one of those rare moments in technology where you see a glimmer of how everything is going to be different going forward.”
On the other hand, this powerful new technology has made certain people very nervous. Many institutions have either banned it, criticized it, or otherwise discouraged it. Here are some examples:
ChatGPT currently does not work in China, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, and several other countries. These governments haven’t gone as far as to publicly ban the technology, however it can’t be a coincidence that ChatGPT is unavailable in countries where political dissent is restricted. For example, the Chinese Communist Party would not want anyone typing in “What happened in Tiananmen Square?” nor would Vladimir Putin want Russian citizens asking “How many Russian soldiers have been killed in Ukraine?”
ChatGPT was quickly banned in many public school districts across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Educators were quick to see that it could very easily provide students with a way to cheat on their homework. Why spend hours writing a book report when ChatGPT can make one in seconds?
In response, OpenAI has announced that they will provide free access to a tool that will enable teachers to identify anything written by ChatGPT.
ChatGPT has been accused of having a left-wing political bias by conservative news outlets such as The National Review, Fox News and The Daily Wire. These conservative commentators allege that the developers at OpenAI have intentionally programmed their personal political beliefs into the algorithm.
We at CodeStringers prefer to stay out of political debates so we’ll avoid offering our opinions on this matter, but suffice it to say that allegations have been made and you can feel free to research the matter on your own and decide for yourself if you agree.
Anyone who has ever hired a lawyer can tell you that it is often a frustrating and bank-breaking experience. Lawyers charge lots of money, by the hour, and a lot of those hours are spent writing boiler-plate legal documents. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of paying, say $2,000 for 4 hours of legal work on a contract, you could pay $500 for ChatGPT to write the contract and the lawyer could just look it over and make a couple of edits?
ChatGPT can write working software code. You can ask ChatGPT to write a website or a simple plugin for you within a few minutes, in any programming language that you want. In the last month, there have been many extensions integrating ChatGPT into common code editors. For example, ChatGPT into VSCode is used to support programmers with great features such as finding bugs, optimizing code, explaining code, etc.
This is giving a lot of anxiety to software developers. Will companies be able to downsize their expensive software development resources as a result of this powerful new technology?
ChatGPT is making a lot of companies nervous. The most glaring example of this is Google. Google is currently worth $1.2 Trillion dollars, and one of the main reasons for this is that their search engine has a near monopoly. However, this monopoly is now in jeopardy because, while Google provides you with a list of possible solutions to any question, a good AI solution could give the user exactly what they are looking for, in natural language.
Google, however, isn’t the only company that is nervous. The entire knowledge economy is at risk, for the first time in history. So how are businesses responding? Not surprisingly, the big players are either trying to buy it (Microsoft), or launch their own (Google and Baidu).
What Should We Do Now To Futureproof Ourselves?
It appears that we are on the precipice of another tech revolution, however, there is no need to panic. Human beings have proven ourselves to be adaptable. However, it is important to learn to work with these new technologies otherwise you risk being replaced by them.
We can leverage the power of AI to better support our work in many different fields. For example:
- Programmers should focus less on simple code writing, and more on innovative structures, algorithms, etc. They should also familiarize themselves with open source AI products, and should use AI tools for error checking, testing, and basic code writing.
- Lawyers should use AI to write boiler-plate contract terms, and should spend more time on negotiations, innovative deal structures, and client development.
- Marketers can focus on researching, understanding customer insights, and coming up with breakthrough ideas. Wrote tasks like media plans and awareness campaigns will probably be better served by AI.
- Journalists can spend more time on investigative work and can use AI to write formulaic stories like crime reports and local government meetings.
- Educators can use AI for grading, plagiarism detection, and to help assemble curriculum plans. Then they can spend more time teaching!
- Even high-level jobs like CEOs can use AI to support their thinking and decision-making. A CSB article showed that “nearly 30% of US experts say they have used AI in their work”.
Keep in mind that AI can only create based on what has been done in the past. It cannot innovate. So a good rule of thumb is that you should consider using AI for projects that are repetitive or derivative so that you can spend more time innovating.
In conclusion, AI has the potential to revolutionize the way we work and live in the coming years. While it may disrupt some industries, it also presents opportunities for growth and innovation. As we embrace the changes brought about by AI, it is essential to continue to upskill and reskill ourselves to remain relevant in the knowledge economy. Organizations and individuals who are open to adapting and embracing AI will be better positioned to thrive in the future. The question is not whether AI will disrupt the knowledge economy, but rather, are we ready to harness its potential?