Technologists are optimistic people, some have been waiting for the predicted “singularity,” for decades and others plunging investments into Artificial Intelligence. It has nourished the imagination of the young, now rejecting jobs and starting AI companies. Enter ChatGPT, an impressive word processor who can produce answers to most questions, write research papers and pass the law exam. We may have enough lawyers already and the thought of scaled up production of lawyers should make most run for cover.
In the early 1990s, daytime running lights became mandatory on automobiles. Technologists and policymakers were ecstatic as they made their mark on humanity, predicting vast reductions in accidents. It has not quite worked out that way (1). The subtle reason is that drivers now expect all cars to have daytime running lights and their driving reflects that expectation. In other words, such technology simply resets expectations with no tangible benefits and often results in disbenefits.
ChatGPT, the latest kid on the block, the darling of technologists and those less saturated by Silicon alike, will head toward a similar outcome. The airwaves have been filled with a plethora of use cases with people ready to deploy it for pretty much anything. Companies are now going to send customized letters to prospective clients, prepared by the technology. They just have to sit back and see their businesses take off to the stratosphere. One issue could be that the consumers of that information will get increasingly numb and the ChatGPT output will resemble sophisticated spam. Students applying for university admissions creating fanciful essays they themselves do not understand may soon find that admissions officers will stop reading their manufactured outputs. Only the greatest president of the US may have some utility for it as his lack of knowledge of the English language and his proclivity to writing prose with crayons make him look bad.
Technology that is universally applied to change, simply reset expectations and provide little utility in the long run. The Search and OS companies have teamed up to create a competitor, Sparrow. History should tell both of these companies that their previous attempts at technology outside their core competence, have delivered nothing. Hope the Sparrow can get out of the coal mine.