AI and your career

Is the technology’s ‘disruptive innovation’ good or bad for our careers? It could be both

Amper Music is an artificial intelligence application that can create music based on inputs from human users who may know nothing about music theory or how to play a musical instrument. Requests and conditions are submitted concerning the type of music desired for purposes such as podcast themes or home video soundtracks. Amper Music in turn generates original music.

DALL-E is an AI program that empowers human users to produce art and realistic images in a variety of modes and forms. Taking text descriptions that have been provided by users, the AI goes about creating stunning illustrations and depictions. Little to no human artistic talent is required to develop original art.

ChatGPT is a newly released opensource AI chatbot designed to yield fresh, high-quality written text on a wide variety of topics, including software code. Based on human user editing suggestions, ChatGPT will even revise its text constructing multiple drafts until the output is just what the user wants for anything from a set of complicated directions to marketing copy.

Another chatbot called Franz Broseph was able to compete against 20 online players from around the world last year in a game of Diplomacy. The game compels participants to engage in political negotiations, form alliances, apply military strategies, and basically win a World War I simulation. Guess who came out on top? Yup, Franz Broseph.

We are no longer waiting to see when AI will revolutionize the world. The disruptive transformation is currently underway.

Note that I used the word “disruptive” above. Is this a good thing or not?

Well, the term certainly brings to mind the late Clayton Christensen and his popularizing of the concept “disruptive innovation.” Christensen highlighted a process whereby a new product or service is introduced at the bottom rung of a market ladder. Eventually, it catches on and grows in usage displacing much, if not all, of the traditional competition. What Walmart did to Sears is an example.

It is safe to assume that the AI examples above are representative of a larger AI disruptive innovation which is in the process of rolling over the work world as we know it. Again, is this good or bad? Well, it could be both.

The manner in which writers, music composers and artists have operated customarily is clearly threatened. AI is now a major new competitor on the block. To be sure, in the short term at least, consumers who prefer conventionally produced text, music and art will purposefully acquire it and shun the AI-generated material. But eventually, the innovations will seep into the mainstream and could very well become the new ordinary.

As the Borg in Star Trek put it, resistance is futile. AI engineers and self-learning AI itself will continue to breed one disruptive innovation after the next, simply because they can. Ethics or a concern for the greater well-being of humans, if it is ever considered, will not inhibit the creation of these products and services. If anything, these novelties will be presented as good for people.

Perhaps these inventions will be good for people. Maybe “better” writing, music composition, and art will result. Possibly the shift we saw from an agrarian economy to a mechanized one during the Industrial Revolution will be an apt analogy to what we are now experiencing. Time will tell.

One thing is clear, however. A simultaneous adaptation to new practices and systems will need to occur such that the AI-fueled modernizations are integrated into the new normal while human careers can continue to flourish. Possibly first drafts of essays will be written by ChatGPT and future iterations will be the result of human edits and prompts bringing about a spectacular essay produced by an otherwise mediocre human writer.

The question I ask myself is, if partnering of machine and human does not lead to higher-quality outcomes, then why are we bothering with AI?

Bill Ryan writes about career, employment and economic topics from his home in North Sutton.

Categories: Tech Advice, Workplace Advice