We may well come to look back on 2023 as the year of artificial intelligence (AI). AI-related stocks attracted huge inflows of capital and public consciousness of the technology reached an all-time high. Those developments didn’t necessarily reflect genuine advances in AI technology. Instead, they were likely the result of the hype surrounding the release of ChatGPT and other large language models in late 2022 and the early part of 2023.
Of course, there have been some technological advances including the growing power of cloud computing which is supporting the creation of the deep neural networks that allow AI to work in much the same way as the human brain. More niche developments such as transformer technology – the T in GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformers) – have also been important as they help the large language models to prioritise what is important and what is not.
Most importantly, the increased awareness has led organisations across the globe to consider use cases for the technology. This has caused a degree of alarm with some commentators expressing concerns in relation to potential widescale job losses.
Humans-first approach is here to stay
These fears are mainly based on the automation enabling qualities of AI. This is nothing new and we have seen the same concerns in relation to every other wave of automation in history. However, in each case the new technology had a net positive effect on labour markets.
A prime example is the sewing machine that caused uproar in the textile industry because of the ability to produce the same amount of clothes with say about 10% of the people. Naturally, people in the industry feared for their jobs. But market forces intervened and showed lower costs delivered by more efficient production drove higher demand that resulted in the creation of even more jobs than had existed before the introduction of the technology.
While AI can enable automation, that is not what the technology has been designed for. At present, it’s being used in two main ways – to derive insights from basic data and turn it into useful information and to automate certain tasks.
ChatGPT can be viewed as an automation tool because it’s a chatbot that can automate conversations and within that automates other tasks. Similarly, AI powered computer vision can take handwriting and turn it into searchable digital text.