“Holding Back The Strange AI Tide” – Ethan Mollick

The original article is by Ethan Mollick, Professor at University of Pennsylvania. It can be found here.

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Most people didn’t ask for an AI that can do many tasks previously reserved for humans. But it arrived, almost completely unexpectedly, eight months ago with ChatGPT, and has been accelerating ever since.

Teachers did not want to see almost every form of homework instantly be solvable by a computer. Employers did want highly-paid tasks that are only meaningful when done by humans (performance reviews, reporting) to be done by machines instead. Government officials did not want a perfect disinformation system released without any useful countermeasures. Released without a manual, no one really even knows what these tools are fully capable of. The world got much stranger, very quickly.

So, it is not surprising that so many people are trying to stop AI from being weird. Everywhere I look I see policies put in place to eliminate the disruption and weirdness that AI brings. These policies are not going to work. And, even worse, the substantial benefits of AI are going to be greatly reduced by trying to pretend it is just like previous waves of technology.

So first, let’s dispense with the idea that generative AI is the next iteration of the waves of web3/crypto/NFT/VR/Metaverse technology hype that we have all lived with for the last decade or so. Every one of these technologies was about future potential to have a major impact, and getting there would have required massive investment and good luck(1)

. Large Language Models are here, now. In their current form, they show tremendous ability to impact many areas of work and life. And, even if they never get any better, even if future AIs are highly regulated (both seem highly unlikely), the AIs we have today are going to bring a lot of change.

And, for many people, that is a problem. In conversations with educational institutions and companies, I have seen leaders try desperately to ensure that AI doesn’t change anything. I believe that not only is this futile, but it also poses its own risks. So lets talk about it.

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