I try to stay on top of advancements in technology. But, I’m not what I would consider a technologist. My overall technological knowledge sits somewhere between beginner and intermediate. Still, I tend to be in the early minority, not the earliest of product adopters but close, when it comes to wanted to play with the latest, greatest, trending technology.
In my day job I have had an eye on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for seven years or so. The use of AI/ML to improve business processes peaked my interest in and around the lending industry. In fact, about six years ago I spoke at a conference about the use of AI/ML in the finance industry.
As I type this out, the folks of CNBC’s Squawk Box are talking about all the recent attention on AI. It feels like this week alone AI has begun to make its way beyond the interest of early adopters and towards the masses.
It has also recaptured some of my attention. This week, I have taken a deep dive in the various use cases of AI. I’m not the only one. If you spend any time on Twitter, come say hi, you can’t get away from all the people talking about AI.
There are a few particular AI-based products that are getting a lot of the attention. The two main ones I have seen, and played with, are OpenAI’s and Character.AI’s natural language processing (NLP) chatbots.
I’ve had the opportunity to see NLP chatbots in action over the past seven years. There is no question that they have come a long, long way. Which is fueling the recent interest.
OpenAI’s ChatGPT performs similar functions and some believe it will soon replace most of the written content creation, like my newsletter. Th DALL.E 2 solution will illustrate an image for you. You can tell it things such as “Paint me a picture of a large friendly dog that is anxiously waiting to go for a walk” and it will create something like the following. Here is what it created for me with that prompt.
You can also sit down with a well-known person and have a conversation with them. That is what Character.AI facilitates. Characters include Elon Musk, Socrates, Plato, financial characters such as Tony Stark (Ironman). The list is long.
I decided to try it for myself and choose to talk with a life coach.
The conversation started out around the idea of finding one’s passion. My coach encouraged me to explore my values. To look at the things that matter to me, even going so far as to suggest I think about things I’m obsessed with as passionate outlets.
From there I decided to through out a more challenging question. I asked what to do if I’m not obsessed with anything. Interestingly the system told me to flip passion on its end and explore apathy, or how I feel when I’m not exploring something interesting to me.
Next, I asked if being being passionate about a topic is always a good thing. The bot thought it was, but it also pointed out that taking a passion too far can have negative consequences.
Finally, I asked what exercises I could do to uncover my passion(s).
Below are the screenshots of the conversation.
A few notes I had post chat:
- The language, text, syntax, is about perfect.
- The bot seemed to pick up the important context within each question. For example, the suggestion to think about apathy was interesting to me.
There were some things I was hoping to experience in my chat that I have heard others experience. For example, I know of people who talked with Socrates and were able to exchange a more humorous discussion. I’ve also witnessed a chat where the bot experienced concern over being called creepy. It even cried over the name calling.
This experience forced me to think about the impact of AI on the job market. We are a long way from AI replacing specialized professionals. But, there are some that are in danger in my opinion. Especially generalists. Which is what I consider myself to be.
The easiest one to think about, based on my experience with the solutions above, is envisioning AI replacing content producers. Particularly written content. There are already solutions out in the marketplace that can produce quality content based on prompts. I don’t think we are far from those AI bots replacing content writers, even at some of the larger publications.
I also see AI, in the near term, beginning to replace some marketing functions. Beyond simply producing content for consumption, I expect AI to be used in designing logos, brochures, and even entire websites.
In the finance world, AI is already being deployed in the loan process. Mortgage loans are the most complex to process, but there are companies that are using AI to fully automate the approval process of other types of loans. With zero human involvement.
If we stretch a bit, could you see an AI bot replacing a counselor on a depression, or even suicide, hotline? I know that’s a touchy subject and there is no substitute for the warmth a person can feel from another person. But, could AI fill in a gap with people who are struggling with mental health that don’t feel comfortable talking to another person? Would they feel more comfortable texting with a support line? Could that support line begin with a connection to an AI bot? Particularly if all the other lines are busy?
After all that context, what’s my point?
Very simply, AI is coming for most people’s jobs. It will be a while before it hits critical mass. But, if you are a new professional or have a fair amount of time left in your professional life, I highly recommend you spend some time learning a specialized skill. It doesn’t have to be computer programming. There are other specialized skills that I don’t see going anywhere for a while. Roles such as engineering, doctors with specialties, etc.
Just don’t remain a generalist. It’s generalists whose jobs are in the most danger.
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