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We love wave analogies, especially to describe technological changes. For example, The third wave is a 1980 book by Alvin Toffler that describes a post-industrial society. Toffler coined the term “information age” to describe this wave. Just started The coming wave by Mustafa Suleyman, CEO and co-founder of Inflection AI and venture partner at Greylock Partners. He previously co-founded the groundbreaking AI lab DeepMind. This background gives him a unique perspective on the future of AI.

In a recent Business Insider article, Suleyman said that generative AI will soon be ubiquitous. While warning of potential risks posed by AI – particularly when combined with synthetic biology – he also predicted that within five years everyone will have access to a personal AI assistant. He referred to this role as personal chief of staff. In this vision, everyone will have access to an AI that knows you, is super smart, and understands your personal history.

The future is now

This prediction is consistent with a prediction I made last December. “Within a few years, ChatGPT or a similar system could become an app similar to Samantha in the 2013 film Her. ChatGPT already does some of what Samantha did: an AI that remembers previous conversations, develops insights based on those discussions, provides useful guidance and therapy, and can do this with thousands of users at the same time.”

Suleyman’s current company produces “Pi” – which stands for “personal intelligence” – a “personal AI designed to be supportive, intelligent and there for you at all times.” In addition, he should act as a coach, confidant, creative partner, sounding board and assistant. This sounds a lot like Samantha and arrived quicker than I expected. In fact, everything seems to be moving quickly in genetic AI.


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The market for these assistants is now becoming very crowded, especially as Chinese providers are also entering the market. According to an article in MIT Technology Review, Baidu’s “Ernie Bot” reached one million users in the 19 hours after its recent public launch. Since then, at least four other Chinese companies have made their chatbot products available for the Large Language Model (LLM).

Intelligence as a commodity

In the current information age, both information and computers have become commodities, goods that can be bought and sold easily and at low cost. Of the AI ​​wave, Suleyman adds: “It will feel like having intelligence as a commodity – cheap, widely available, making everyone smarter and more productive.”

Vasant Dhar, a professor at the Stern School and co-director of the PhD program at NYU’s Center for Data Science, has come to the same conclusion: “Prepared [language] Models have transformed AI from an application to a general-purpose technology. In doing so, intelligence becomes a commodity.” He adds that because of the new behavior of these models, “intelligence is configurable for any task that requires it.” Like electricity.”

Just as electricity has permeated much of daily life — from home heating to lighting to powering manufacturing plants and virtually all of our labor-saving devices — Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said the impact of AI will be even more profound . How profound? As The Guardian reports, Suleyman predicts that AI will discover miracle cures, diagnose rare diseases, run warehouses, optimize transport and design sustainable cities.

A change is coming

It is now widely accepted that AI will also be crucial for businesses. It is expected to increase efficiency and productivity, reduce costs and create new opportunities. Gen AI is already being used to develop personalized marketing campaigns, generate creative content, and automate customer service tasks. It can help developers iterate faster, from the brainstorming phase to actual development.

Already an excellent editor of written content, Gen AI is also becoming a better writer as linguistics experts struggle to distinguish AI-generated content from human writing. Soon it will also be a better teacher. According to Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, technology can provide each student with an individual tutor.

Talking about a wave is likely to short-sell the impact of AI. It is not; Some have called this a tsunami. Suleyman argues that AI “represents nothing less than a fundamental shift in human capabilities and human society, bringing both risk and innovation on a massive scale.”

Emil Skandul, founder of digital innovation company Capitol Foundry, believes that “a tidal wave is coming to the global economy.” He adds that this could raise living standards, improve productivity and accelerate economic opportunity, but adds that a bright future is not guaranteed.

To be sure, the downsides are significant, ranging from deepfakes to the spread of misinformation on a global scale. For example, a new report claims that China is using AI-generated images to try to influence US voters.

Tsunamis are huge and devastating

Even though next-generation AI is still in its infancy, its impact on jobs could be huge. Pichai said in a recent Wired interview: “I worry about whether AI is displacing or expanding the job market. There will be areas where it will be a disruptive force.”

Accenture found that 40% of all working hours can be affected [generative AI] LLMs like GPT-4. Goldman Sachs research suggests that genetic AI has the potential to automate 26% of work tasks in art, design, entertainment, media and sports.

Venture firm Sequoia Capitol said that with the advent of this technology, “every industry that requires people to create original works – from social media to gaming, from advertising to architecture, from programming to graphic design, from product design to Rightly so, from marketing to sales – is on the rise for reinvention.”

McKinsey estimated that at least 12 million Americans would move into other fields of work by 2030. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also claimed that more than a quarter of jobs in the OECD rely on skills that can be easily automated.

Many of the expected impacts on employment have not yet been felt, but the conflicts associated with rapid change are already becoming apparent. AI is a central theme in the current strikes by Hollywood actors and writers. These are signs of a shift in the face of this technology. There will probably be many more.

How to deal with a tsunami

As a society, we have learned to cope with the information age, for better or for worse. Several decades later, the benefits and losses of this technological advancement have become clearer, although the topic remains hotly debated. Now we face even greater changes from the impact of AI and the commercialization of intelligence.

In a recent episode of the Plain English podcast, health and science journalist Brad Stulberg talked about the different ways people deal with change. Stulberg is the author of Master of change and he discussed “allostasis,” a concept from complex systems theory that could provide useful insights. The term refers to the ability of a system to dynamically stabilize in the face of disturbances. This concept is different from homeostasis, in which a system returns to its previous point as quickly as possible after a disturbance.

In allostasis, the system changes from order to disorder to reorder, essentially coming back into balance at a new point, a new normal. It doesn’t reset into the past like homeostasis would. An example of allostasis is our collective recovery from COVID-19. As work continues, the longstanding paradigm of going into the office for many has been replaced by hybrid working. Stationary retail has also increasingly given way to online retail.

According to Stulberg, for the individual, allostasis means remaining stable despite changes. To achieve this, he believes people need to develop “robust flexibility” to most effectively manage change. In other words, people must learn to be strong and hold on to what is most useful, but also to bend and adapt to change by embracing what is new. We’re used to doing one or the other, he argues, but now we have to learn to do both.

When the wave hits

While it’s still possible that another AI winter is coming (where the technology fails to live up to the hype and stalls), it’s increasingly looking like an AI tsunami is inevitable. Therefore, it is important to be prepared for change on both a personal and societal level. This means we must be willing to learn new things, including how to use the latest AI tools – and adapt to new ways of doing things.

We all need to develop strong flexibility in order to adapt successfully. This requires openness to change and growth, even if there is significant disruption. In the face of the AI ​​tsunami, it’s not just about survival, but also about learning to ride the wave and thrive in a changed world.

Gary Grossman is a senior VP at Edelman and global head of the Edelman AI Center of Excellence.


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