A case for why AI might not end the world
There’s something about the AI frenzy that recalls Y2K. A level of irrational panic that causes even the most logical among us to instinctively buy 6 bottles of water for a family of 5.
I think this panic is misplaced. First, let’s face facts: AI will be everywhere. It’s not a question of if but when. And this could a good thing.
We need to rebrand AI.
It’s not a bot coming for your job.
It’s a co-pilot to your life.
Just as you Google even the most basic fact or pull up an app to get you to a place you already know the way to, just with less traffic, AI will run alongside you. Assisting and lifting the monotonous burdens that we all secretly know we’ll be delighted to let go of.
Let us put aside the panic and ask: is AI the future of work happiness? A co-pilot to free up our time, allowing us to be our best human-selves?
If I’m hearing Matt Klein’s research correctly, the answer is yes. Humans are better at making the magic connections happen. At bridging complex business needs. At finding synergies that no bot can see. At imbuing depth and meaning. But AI can sift through the muck and uncover bits of gold we might have missed.
AI needs to be viewed as a super handy collaborator, not a nemesis. And we’ll all have a co-pilot soon enough.
- Electricians will have a co-pilot for the super complex raceways. Humans will still be there implementing the solutions.
- Architects will have co-pilots to help them adapt to local codes, assist with the n-teenth stair solution or reconfigure because of a duct discovery. But there’s no AI that can navigate the emotional meaning of ‘home’.
- Assistants will have assistance. But we all know a recap is just an outline.
- We’ll scan giant documents without using keywords. But navigating the complex realities of business priorities—that’s a human superpower.
- Dalle-2 will feature in every design field. But there’s so much more that goes into a design than what it looks like.
- Agencies will generate ideas for pitches, and even ads. But once the novelty of it wears off, humans will still need to uncover the deeply weird, unexpected realities that are the bedrock of great ads.
- AI might write our quizzes (and we’ll be glad of it!) But something with of true substance is impossibly far off.
- Doctors will get AI-powered tools to translate bad penmanship. Perhaps this will free up time for the the human side of patient care.
- Yes, there will be tools to make editing videos faster and easier but it will still require a vision, a director, to guide how it all unfolds. If you think AI will replace A24’s magic, you’re mad.
- Toy companies will play with making fun virtual prototypes but they’ll still engage with customers to see what actually matters. ‘Shop small’ has proven we don’t truly love to buy from robots.
- There will even be a co-pilot for you. A digital twin to practice tricky surgeries on, to track and predict more preventable disease—this is the stuff of dreams not the stuff of nightmares.
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of potential applications for AI we’ve been wanting and needing.
If you have ever navigated applying and REAPPLYING for your elderly parents’ Medicaid, you will fall in love with the AI that helps ease that burden.
Imagine when AI gets so good that moms will have reduced emotional fatigue from a few monotonous tasks being taken off her plate.
When the lonely have access to an AI that remembers all their stories and can engage them in meaningful conversation.
When an AI that let’s you find a specific piece of advice in a book you own without the hassle of flipping through the entire book yourself. Heaven.
Co-pilots will be amazing.
That said, I think AI is still in its—to continue with our ‘aughts references—Limewire phase. We’re stealing on a daily and personal level. I don’t think this will last long. Once we get out of the ‘free fun’ phase and this becomes a truly entrenched part of our lives we’ll be paying for it like we do the rest of the internet. Some stuff will be free (mainly the stuff that makes money off you in other ways), the rest you will pay for. Artists will license their styles. Authors their books. Specialists their know-how. Already, tools are coming out to tell you if something is AI generated. These are growing pains. Annoying? Yes. Reason for panic? No.
So if you need to buy 6 bottles of water to calm your nerves—go for it. But I think 6 will be more than enough. Spend the rest of your time planning what you’ll do with the fraction of extra spare time AI might provide as it creates shortcuts to daily life. I for one am one mom ready for a trusty co-pilot.
PS. Obviously we had to make some AI generated image for the cover of this piece. I can tell you now that I spent way too long trying to smash the right words together to get something even passably acceptable. This no doubt will change but we’re not in the future just yet y’all.
Attempts prior to a mediocre finale: