I was 7 when I first got my hands on a personal computer. It was a Pentium III with CRT screen, and with only a few gigs of hard drive. Any task completion in that device felt like waiting in a long line, hoping that the shop wouldn’t suddenly close. I’m sure we’ve all had our share of unexpected restarts while the task was at 99%. The Dial-Up internet finally connecting well was like finding gold. The PCs did feature some cool games though. I always liked Dave more than Road Rash. While being able to kick another biker was fun but getting to ride a jetpack was a luxury!

We’ve now come to an age where desktops are typically used for heavy-duty stuffs, and the general population has shifted to laptops for most personal and productive use. Hardware development for computers have taken a steady pace forward. Keeping the wishful thinking of films that depicted flying cars and easy time travel in the 21st century aside, we’ve actually come a long way. Now, computers are absolutely essential for any institution and businesses, and can single-handedly define if a person is skilled or not based on their ability to use computers. Phones, on the other hand, have had major surprises. The transition from limited keys or qwerty keys to touchscreen smartphones was a revolution. Its compatibility with social media was another defining step.

The recent development of ChatGPT, though it isn’t a hardware, has been a bomb-drop. I think it’s much bigger than the shift from traditional phones to touchscreen. It’s a stunning addition to computers.

It’s bigger than what most of us think it is, and despite its ever-growing millions of users in such a short span, I still think its potential is generally underestimated, for both – risks and rewards. The rise of ChatGPT has now introduced an Al race where tech giants are getting their Al tools out to stay relevant in the field.

The Al race has also revived the long-standing question since centuries- will technology replace human jobs to a point that it’s a concern for humanity?

With every passing major development in the field of technology, the answer has always been ‘No’ so far. There are more jobs today than decades ago. Tractors replaced people, but enhanced agriculture as an industry. The machines during industrial revolution replaced workers, but created more jobs. It required people to create those machines, operate them as well as maintain them. When production kept increasing, more businesses emerged within and across borders that required the replication of the same process. Thanks to tech, the global market has expanded like never before. With every major technological addition, more jobs have been created than lost. This argument, in it’s fullest detail, is quite convincing.

People’s fear of tech taking over jobs has been revived recently, with the rise of ChatGPT. For obvious reasons, it’s farfetched and impractical to assume that current Al tools will replace most jobs. But we are at a point where we shouldn’t take the idea that ‘Al will create more jobs than it takes’ as a simple philosophy to live by. Especially now, it’s important to keep an open mind.

Unlike ChatGPT, the machines of the old days took years to set a benchmark. They were hard to make, reproduce, or to replicate in different cities and countries. The transition time was years at the very least. The same was true even for the printing press. It didn’t suddenly start printing millions of books overnight, but took decades to mark its presence beyond borders after its invention. Nations had enough time to decide on their willingness to adapt to the new technology.

With internet, ChatGPT and similar Al tools went all-out at once. If a nation decides to get on board with this new technology, it has to embrace its potential risks. It also has to cater to the inevitable challenges that spaces like job market or education system will face. Alternatively, if they decide to prohibit its use, they will have to confront the fact that they might lose the first-mover advantage.

Even before the introduction of Facebook, there were social media sites. Remember Hi5? Honestly, it didn’t make much sense, but at a time when there wasn’t much, people made their peace with it. It didn’t take many years for Facebook to make people feel that they’re actually using something big. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook emerged as exceptions, in a sense that they played a significant role in shaping as well as challenging values globally.

Likewise, ChatGPT is not the first platform that generates content or is a language model that can solve mathematical problems. But it’s like the facebook of publicly accessible Al. It’s better than anything even closely of its kind that we’ve seen before. I’d argue that it’s bigger than the introduction of big social media platforms. I actually think we might as well have entered into a new era, which is why I’ve tried to stress on the idea that we are, in general, underestimating the potential of similar platforms.

Access to ChatGPT has made certain institutional values questionable. One of them is the education system. The functionality of ChatGPT can directly counteract academia’s methods of original writing. Whether it should be allowed is still questionable, and major educational institutions and boards have a big decision to make. The sudden bomb-drop has made it quite hard. We know for sure that irrespective of their decision, many students will inevitably use ChatGPT for their assignments. But if it’s fully allowed for use, the education system will have to change its centuries-long values regarding original writing.

Education system is one of several spaces that generative Al tech will influence. While I mentioned in the previous post that machines in the past opened more work departments than they replaced, it’s hard to exactly predict what new departments the generative Al tools will create. The Al industry is predicted to grow and employ many more people than it has ever before within the industry, but it isn’t clear at what cost to employees of other industries. And ChatGPT right now is only in its infancy. It’s more influential days are yet to come.

I’ve never been this excited about the future, with the increasing number of mind blowing AI tools. I’ve even made several changes in my life recently just to make sure I get to spend more time testing these tools and utilizing them to improve my efficiency. On the other hand, I’ve also never felt this much of a need to discuss, think, read and speak about the potential dangers that the same technology may invite. 

We’ll all get to see where this goes. 


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