Embracing AI or falling behind: The choice is yours

In the last article, I described two types of attitudes that people currently seem to have towards AI tools generally and ChatGPT specifically:

The first group comprises of people who are, to various degrees, curious, anxious, excited, and/or relieved with the advent of AI in their lives, and are therefore eager to explore its utility, again, with various degrees of success in it. The second group dismisses this as a fad, irrelevant, insignificant, a fad, or “something I don’t need to learn to use, since there will be people around me learn”. It’s the latter category of people who will be made redundant, much to their surprise and to no surprise to anyone else. 

This article predicts what will happen to the second group at two levels. At first there will be an immediate impact of the productivity and efficiency that AI tools will bring to those who embrace it forthrightly. And the second will be in the form of long-term impact on learning and growing attitudes.

The immediate benefit that will be derived will be Time. As AI tools will be increasingly used for ideating, structuring, drafting, proof-reading, and creating different versions and formats of content, suddenly, a lot of time will be liberated. That will allow professionals to expand the portfolio of value they bring to their work. From upgrading their output from tactical to strategic or adding more dimensions to their reputation counsel, to creating opportunities for more meaningful engagement with their clients, journalists, or other stakeholders. That extra time will be an asset, and how it is usefully deployed will be the critical success factor.

Early adapters of ChatGPT will not just thrive but might just be seen as the most likely survivors of the impact of AI. They will become torchbearers within their organisation or the profession at large. The competencies will progressively diverge between them and those who fail to embrace the utilities of AI.

In addition to these direct impacts, by not learning how AI works and understanding the use cases of GPT, individuals may miss out on a variety of unique implications, skills, and habits, such as:

  1. Critical AI competence: Having a solid understanding of AI systems empowers individuals to critically evaluate AI-generated outputs, make informed decisions, and engage in shaping AI-related policies and regulations.
  2. Effective digital interaction: Collaborating with AI tools like ChatGPT demands honed communication skills and a knack for working with a digital counterpart, maximizing outcomes.
  3. Augmented creativity: AI has the potential to boost human ingenuity by offering suggestions or producing content in various forms, such as text, music, or art. Ignorance of AI workings hampers the ability to leverage this potential.
  4. Adaptive mindset: With AI constantly evolving, adaptability and a willingness to learn new technologies are essential. People lacking AI knowledge may find it difficult to stay current and navigate the ever-changing landscape.
  5. Data-driven choices: AI systems rely on data analysis to generate predictions and recommendations. Not understanding AI hinders one’s capacity to use data-driven insights for better decision-making in both personal and professional contexts.
  6. Ethical consciousness: A working knowledge of AI is necessary to identify potential biases and ethical concerns in AI-generated content or decision-making.
  7. Career prospects: AI and machine learning have permeated various industries, creating numerous job opportunities for those with relevant skills. By not learning how AI works, individuals risk missing out on these opportunities.
  8. Digital security acumen: Understanding AI systems is crucial to recognising vulnerabilities in these technologies and maintaining digital security.
  9. Empathy for AI: As AI systems become more integrated into our daily lives, it’s essential to develop empathy and understanding for these digital entities, leading to better collaborations and a healthier relationship with technology.
  10. Problem-solving aptitude: AI can be a powerful tool to help solve complex problems. Those who lack an understanding of AI might miss out on its potential to aid in problem-solving and risk assessment.

One of the most difficult concepts for humans to grasp is the concept of compounding. The exponential growth in the AI space is difficult to fathom. It means that features and use cases of AI in communications will not emerge gradually, giving enough time for everyone to jump onto the bandwagon. They’ll arrive suddenly, as ChatGPT did, and only those who have invested in familiarising themselves with the basics will be able to get onto it. Those who can’t get on this train, might be left behind forever.

Personally, I didn’t think much of the crypto bubble, and I kept my mouth shut Meta and the chatter around AR/VR. But the AI boom that we’ve witnessed since OpenAI democratised GPT has been truly transformative. It’s borderline frightening how revolutionary it will continue to be.

I have been a student of AI for most of the last decade. In early 2019 I met Prof. Hod Lipson, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Data Science Institute at the Columbia University, at the IAA World Congress. There, he delivered a fascinating keynote on how machines learn. In 2019 I gave my first keynote on AI and its implications for PR at the Kuala Lumpur International PR Conference, Malaysia. Since then, I have spoken on the subject at various global academic institutions and professional forums. And in early March 2023, I started building a training module for PR professionals; to demystify AI and ChatGPT for them and empower them to harness its full potential. Between 20 March and 20 April 2023, I trained over 500 professionals in Adfactors PR, India’s largest PR firm. We are integrating these ideas heavily in our curriculum at SCoRe’s PG Diploma Programme in PR and Corporate Communications.

With every conversation I have on the subject, my belief in the transformative power of AI increases. The more I know about it the more I realise how little I know. Even AI researchers are unable to accurately explain how (and why) the GPT model is able to learn things so fast. As I write this, it has been about a week since Auto GPT – GPT agents which can breakdown an entire goal into tasks and delegate those tasks to other AI programmes – has been released. Many are calling this (and some other traits of GPT) as Sparks of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence – where an AI become as smart as or smarter than humans). If you’re wondering what’s the right time to familiarise yourself with AI and ChatGPT, it is now.

The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is today.

Eliud Kipchoge

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Hemant Gaule
Hemant is an education leader based in Mumbai, India, and is passionate about education, policy, and media. After graduating from the Indian Institute of Management -Ahmedabad, he has counselled several private, social, political & government initiatives. He was a Co-founder & Director of Citizens of Accountable Governance, a team that spearheaded the national election campaign of India’s current Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi in 2014. After that, he has Co-founded (and is Dean of) India’s only institute dedicated to education and research in public relations – School of Communications & Reputation. In 2019 he became the first Indian to be conferred as a Fellow Accredited Public Relations Practitioners by ASEAN PR Network. In 2022, he was named among 40 Young Turks of India by Reputation Today Magazine. He can be reached at @HemantGaule on Twitter.

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