Any anthropologist will tell you that human beings have not significantly evolved since ancient times. We are the same creatures who once tried to make sense of the natural world and evolve from hunter-gatherers to the human race of today. Future anthropologists and sociologists will no doubt look back on our times and wonder how it was to cope with such major global changes as the internet and the Covid pandemic.

Understanding AI scaremongering

Coping with major changes is not something that comes easily to most of us. And the recent emergence of AI, a terribly misleading term by the way, is like the integrated circuit, the world wide web, the blue LED and mobile connectivity before it, another technological milestone with significant wide-reaching impact for humanity.

All of which makes it incredibly difficult to make sense of what is going on and do something practical about it, like taking advantage of AI for improving everything around us, including the organisations we work for, manage, and lead.

The ‘anthropologist’s view’ is that the fearmongering around AI is a natural human reaction to major change. DWG’s view is that there are risks around AI that need to be taken into account, but that in the meantime, let’s try and understand it and then responsibly apply it in order to produce positive impacts on our lives. We can see it happening apace, from Customer Experience and predictive Analytics to the automation of everything from healthcare diagnostics to booking a taxi.

Taking over the world?

Maybe an AI will take over the world – few would argue that it would do a worse job than humans – but these kinds of doom-laden predictions remind me of the early days of the desktop PC revolution. “What will happen to the hundreds of thousands of secretarial and ‘typing pool’ jobs around the land?!” – instead, people – and notably, it was mostly women who had the ‘privilege’ of menial typing-pool assignments – were liberated and enabled to perform higher-level functions. Those tasks were simply no longer necessary.

A large of group are sitting at desks using typewriters.

Today we need to think the same way about tasks that AI can perform and not fear the passing of these hands-on tasks. Instead, just as the removal of the typing pool had no impact on the quality of what was now created on Word Processors, it is still up to the human being in the equation to use the tool properly. Understanding how Lotus 1-2-3 or WordPerfect worked in order to produce professional results became the new skill. As an example, my mother went from typist to word processing guru in the space of a couple of years, eventually becoming one of those anthropologists I mentioned.

Ask ChatGPT

In the interest of fairness, I also took the opportunity to ask one of the stars of the new AI revolution, ChatGPT itself, to answer some questions about scaremongering around AI.

In summary – ChatGPT believes that the root cause of fear around AI is human behaviour and decision-making, not something inherent to the technology itself. And this is arguably very true, because we can see human emotional reactions to the advent of this tech that match the way other paradigm shifts have previously been greeted.

ChatGPT responds to the question about why humans fear the development of AI and other tech innovations

The right human approach

Automation brings massive systemic risks – in my career I have seen financial institutions brought to their knees overnight thanks to unsafeguarded automated processes. So it is not about the tech but rather how human beings approach the change that leads to the conditions for success or failure. There is now at last an emerging legal framework around AI and there needs to be a process of education that sees AI for what it is, not for what makes the most clickable headline.

DWG is ready to help with this education. We are interested in talking to CEOs, COOs, CTOs and other key leaders in organisations seeking to make sense of and take advantage of the AI revolution. From a Customer Experience redesign to improving quality and efficiency throughout an organisation, DWG is ready to help.

Finally, if you’re struggling to understand how AI can benefit your organisation and need some guidance on how to get started , then download our useful ebook.

How to unlock the benefits of Data, AI & Automation ebook download

This blog was first published as a LinkedIn Article by Rafael Bloom.

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Rafael Bloom
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