The breach artificial intelligence (AI) is creating between your Average Joe and the Silicon Valley techie, should worry us deeply. At the speed at which these programs and tools are invading our daily life, there’s a not so slim chance we’ll be having trouble to know what’s reality, and what’s an artificial illusion. Yet, the solution lies in this technology itself. Those who want to secure their freedom of thought, must learn to speak AI. At home and in the workplace. And preferably sooner rather than later.
Don’t get me wrong though. I’m very much a fan of and even believer in AI. Tools like Midjourney, ChatGPT or Gen-1, which generate images, text and videos based on textual descriptions, have opened and continue to open up new worlds and opportunities every day. So please, keep the new AI applications coming! But, having conversations with friends and family about this subject, it dawned on me that it’s easy for me to say that as a tech lover.
The reality is that there’s a large breach between the techies up in Silicon Valley and your Average Joe. It’s already bigger than the one the first personal computer or smartphone ever struck. And those were, in their early days, already the digital equivalent of the Grand Canyon. But the danger of this doesn’t only lie in the ‘I’m out of touch’. An even greater danger in this, is that we become so overwhelmed with all these new evolutions and options, that we forget to keep up our critical approach towards AI. And if we do so, AI becomes a threat to our outlook on the world. It’s time to look beyond our initial enthusiasm and consider how the use of artificial intelligence will affect our lives.
Let’s keep our cool
AI entering our lives is beneficial. It has the potential to take our work and our lives to the next level. But that optimistic perception should not allure us to leave our work, creativity and worldview to AI without batting an eye. We still have the responsibility to do a reality check on everything those AI tools gush. Rarely has humankind faced such a great challenge on a societal level.
Yet, we cannot let AI scare us. Even if this evolution is of unprecedented magnitude, we owe it to ourselves to keep our cool and explore the new possibilities for ourselves with interest and optimism. And no, you don’t have to become a techie to do so. These technologies have become so foolproof that almost everyone can use them without any issues. No more excuses, because, as former cyclist Greg LeMond once put it: it never gets easier, you just go faster.
Just as we had to master the alphabet to be able to read and write at some point, we must learn to use artificial intelligence in everyday life. Doing so will demand a whole set of new competencies that every generation will have to master, starting right now. As a Creative Director, I fortunately have an advantage in that area. Because if there's one thing important in my job, it is to give teams clear briefings to get to the desired result.
That well thought out briefing is equally important in the new world that AI has created. If you want to use artificial intelligence as an assistant to make your job easier, you must be able to output the task at hand into words perfectly. Because if you give a lousy input, the intelligent generative tools will spout an even lousier output. But if you do it right, the possibilities are endless.
Most spoken language worldwide, but quickly fake
The most important skill we all need to master urgently is to see the limitations of AI: the lack of authenticity and the difficulty of figuring out whether images, videos or statements are actually genuine. This changes our role as humans from "creator" to "curator. It is we who will have to select, edit and present this AI-generated creativity. If we’re not able to do so, our worldview will be heavily influenced by fake videos or images which are increasingly difficult to distinguish from real ones. To learn to speak the language of AI in 2023, means we have to question everything and never take anything for granted.
It’s a discussion we need to have with our executives, not diving head-first without any plan. As a manager, encourage your employees to experiment. Let's all work on training our own built-in reality detector on AI generated content. Make informed decisions in a world where choices have never been more plentiful than today. But above all, embrace AI and let it add something to your life, both in your private as well as your professional life. Although it doesn't hurt to nostalgically reach back to a Polaroid or an LP. Those simple and tangible technologies keep us in touch with reality and our authentic, real world.