Many of you have asked me to write an essay with my thoughts on AI (Artificial Intelligence). So in the spirit of things, I've tasked ChatGPT to write this article for me.
I'm kidding. Or maybe I'm not, I guess we'll never find out? (:
AI is everywhere today. And it's all just the beginning. It's impossible to ignore and I can already say as much now, it will be with us for a very long time to come.
And you probably wonder, where has it been before? Why is it suddenly moving so fast? And the simple answer is: The models for AI have been around for more than a decade, many of them are nothing new. But what is new, is the advancements of hardware chips, computing power and the willingness to spend large amounts of money on it. And the timing is just perfect. We're at the tippity-top of digital consumerism. The ultimate late-stage-capitalism phase. It all makes sense if you think about it. For millennials it was the internet. For Gen-Z and beyond, it will be AI.
I would even argue, the only reason AI has started taking off so quickly can be summed up in the picture below:
But what do I really think about AI?
It's a difficult topic, because there's a difference between what I think of AI as it stands, and what I wish AI would be used for. After all, AI is just a technology, a tool. You can use it for good things or for bad things. The problem often is that we don't know what good or bad is anymore and the only way to find out, is to find out.
What I do know is that AI as a baseline technology is inevitable, which is why you'll be seeing it in pretty much every app. The same way every single text editor app has auto-correct, every app will have AI.
You could argue that AI isn't human (bad) and that it takes away a certain accountability. And that's true. But auto-correct already helps me write more efficiently by not worrying about mistakes I make. Does that make me a bad writer? Probably not.
AI technology is going to change all our underlying systems. Even existing things such as auto-correct, search indexes or other automation tools will be entirely replaced by their smarter AI counterparts.
Today we might call it a "special AI feature." Tomorrow we just call it, well, nothing. Because it will simply be the new baseline technology and expectation for any software out there. The same way we find it completely normal to connect to the internet, chat with friends, send emails and see floating cursors of our co-workers flying around in our documents. It used to be special, magic. But today it's normal, and AI will be soon very normal too.
So you love everything about AI?
I'm unsure about it. Mainly because of the predominant use cases for it right now, which to me seem incredibly uninspiring and meaningless. But perhaps that's just because the right people haven't gotten their hands on AI just yet.
For some reason we decided that the first thing AI should replace is creating Art. Yes, the most wonderful romantic activity that is possibly THE definition of what it means to be Human. Why would we ever try to replace or automate it? The same applies to writing, or creating "content" (which some would argue is also about art and self-expression).
I understand why it feels so magical. In particular, the less talented you are, the more likely you'll love using AI to create art or anything else you weren't able to create before. AI helps you skip the 10.000 hours needed to be good at something, and jumps straight to the point at which you're able to create something mediocre. But mediocre might be good enough, because we've long forgotten what it means to create something great.
The AI field to me right now is mostly filled with charlatans and misguided intentions. But in a way, I think that's perhaps the nature of how these things work. There's beauty in decentralization and crypto, yet it has been tarnished by charlatans and opportunists. Looking back, it was the same case with the internet as a whole. Perhaps we just need to wait for it all to mature.
The primary use case for AI is efficiency. The question is just, where do we like to apply this efficiency to? Should AI help us do our tax returns and bookkeeping, or should it help us create our art and content?
Ultimately, I believe AI is taking over our creative tools because we're much more in love with efficiency than we are with creativity. There's a deep lack of integrity and personal pride these days, and the rise of AI automation is underlying this trend.
Perhaps this is just the romantic inside me speaking. Someone who believes that some things are sacred. And not just for the sake of it, but because it's truly the only thing we have left.
As humans we may be here on this world for many reasons or no reason at all. What's the meaning of life anyway, other than what you make of it?
When it comes down to it, the beauty of life is the ability to create art, to express yourself and to spend time with your friends and family. I do think those things are sacred to a degree that I do not want to OPTIMIZE or ANALYZE them to death.
I've already seen apps that help you optimize your relationship with the help of AI. Their premise is to "Make faster connections with AI" or "Optimize your friendships." It is in terrible, poor taste. It makes no sense. These are ideas that can only be dreamed up by someone who has never really dreamed before. (They remind of me of the book "The Circle," which I've mentioned here many times.)
But none of this matters. My opinion doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. We're racing toward technical advancements with childlike ignorance of the consequences. There's almost a beauty to that in itself.
The irony of it all is, I am a pro-tech, forward-thinking person. I love technology and I love everything about Artificial Intelligence in itself. But at the same time, I'm a romantic. I love the idea of technology being used in harmony with humans.
After all, I'm a Designer. I love designing things with intention and a strong opinion. AI will be part of my toolset, but it won't take away my integrity and pride of creating things that have soul.