The AI.. AI.. AI.. Corporate AI FOMO is Real

Buzzwords come and go in the corporate world, but this time, we have something whose use (or lack thereof) can make or break your company, get you fired as a CEO or shake up your company’s share prices.

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AI is that buzzword that better finds its mention in your speeches or memos if you’re a business leader, else you would be considered illiterate and your company’s shares would plummet. I know it sounds silly, but using AI, or at least pretending to, in your company is a big pressure for business leaders nowadays.

Newsrooms are even taking note of how many times a CEO is saying the word in a speech. For example, according to a CNet report, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said ‘AI’ 140 times in its 2-hour I/O developer conference, and even calculated that that was 1.153 mentions per minute. Youtubers have gone as far as to make a meme of him saying ‘AI’, ‘AI’, ‘AI’, in the speech.

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Not just the media, but even employees expect their corporate leaders to be using AI or at least know how the company will use it in a major way. This is evident from the numerous LinkedIn contacts of ours sharing their CEO’s statements on the social media platform about how their company is implementing, or plans to implement AI in the near future.

The AI Overhype

All this started last year thanks to OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. Currently valued at $80 billion, it also created the image-generation tool Dall-E. CEO Sam Altman is currently seeking a funding of $7 trillion in his efforts to create AGI, artificial general intelligence, or a machine that is at par with human intelligence in any way that is economically important. 

Last year, Open AI’s ChatGPT-4 started off as a very big deal, many speculating if the LLM (large language model) was AGI itself, which could replace many creative and cognitive jobs, including screenwriting, presentations, data analysis, programming and content writing.

This Ai hype, or perhaps OpenAI’s impressive marketing strategy, didn’t just popularize ChatGPT, but also the word ‘AI’, and made headlines how everyone else was losing in the AI race, including Google, Apple and more.  

The AI Hype is Not New

I remember a few years back mobile apps were the talk of the town. Everyone wanted one, whether they had any use for it or not. Then came chat bots, which every website wanted for whatever little customer-engagement they had. They too lost their sheen gradually. There was a time more than a couple of decades ago when Chess bots became popular, but today nobody seems to be amazed by them after a few years.

Does Chat-GPT Live Up to Its Hype?

Now let’s analyse ChatGPT without all this hype, and see how actually working with it was for me and my company. Yes, we tried to use it for content writing, editing, data analysis, programming and anything else it promises to do.

The verdict? This verbal diarrhoea tool is a Generative Pre-trained Transformer, and I doubt you can use it for any creative work of basic intelligence. And I assume most people think these AI tools can make sense of large amounts of data and provide actionable intelligence, however, after trying it out for these tasks, I seriously doubt its credentials, and so does GPT itself.

Let’s start with content writing. Yes, at a first glance, if you look at GPT-written content, you’d be impressed – any topic, any tone, any level. But read more than a few, and you’d start to notice the robotic-ness that just can’t seem to go away.

My wife and SAM co-founder Shilpa Ahuja says, “We did a poll on Instagram and LinkedIn and asked our readers if they would want to read bot-written content on our website? 100% of about 250 respondents said ‘no’. Writing and journalism are all about the human connection and experience, and this result is not surprising.”

And yet, GPT-written content is everywhere now – from blogs to social media posts to Youtube videos to newspapers and ad campaigns. I can’t vouch for others but I’m certainly getting annoyed by all the AI chat bot gibberish. For one, the most annoying thing is all the writing nowadays has these words like ‘embark’, ‘realm’, journey, ‘dive into’, etc. Who wrote like that before GPT? Then there are all the politically correct words. The worst part? Most people think it’s their own words and thoughts, and no one would notice, as they truly believe in their prompt engineered creation.

Shilpa adds, “We may cancel our fashion journalism program this year, which had been a great hit among college students all over India for the last four years. This is because last year, many interns submitted Chat-GPT written articles (I can tell) and quit when they were confronted about it, and encouraged to submit their own writing. One even claimed that she submitted it because it was exactly like her own writing.”

I feel people are going to get dumber now, until they get rid of GPTs. Today many youtubers are claiming that you don’t need to learn programming, as GPTs will write the code for you. I don’t know how people can make such outlandish claims, who have probably never written a piece of code in their lives. All I can say is the news a year back was that millions of coders were about to get fired, and that nothing of that sort has happened nor will it in the future.

ChatGPT’s code can be buggy, and if you’re not a programmer who has worked on actual projects, you won’t even know where to begin to debug it, implement it or scale it. Yes, this is a good tool to save your time or even help you learn and improve.

Enterprise FOMO of AI

Today CXOs are under immense social pressure to use AI in manufacturing, marketing, finance and wherever possible, so that they, too, can claim and blabber AI… AI… AI… (supported by other buzzwords like ML, IoT, etc.) in their interviews! It’s the exact same pressure that I remember in a previous job, when I was heading a business and the top management wanted me to launch a mobile app, as mobile apps were the in thing in those days. AI is exactly that word, which has to be in your vocabulary, else you would be considered Rip-Van-Winkle of this decade.

My two cents of advice to CXO’s and top management would be to feel free to use AI in their communication, but not to take pressure to use it. A company’s focus has always been and still is to create value, and useful products.

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AI is just one more buzzword which has been effectively marketed by Americans, that it has developed an inferiority complex among non-Tech company leaders. Things like machine learning are just statistical algorithms, AI as such is just everybody’s interpretation.

Yes I do believe there has been some progress in graphics processing to some extent, but the intelligence in AI is yet to be seen. I would advise people to not take articles from media and podcasts from tech leaders seriously, as I doubt they themselves can exactly predict how AI and its applications would evolve. As said by Sam Altman in a recent interview, a decade ago we used to think that AI would affect blue-collar jobs in areas like cleaning, manufacturing, etc. first and creative jobs like arts and music last, however the reverse has turned out to be true.

Will This AI AI.. Phase Also Pass?

Last year ChatGPT’s PR stories took the internet by storm. Where a farmer in remote India, every smart employee and startup and every other person except you seemed to be making money using Chat GPT, and you felt like the biggest loser of the century. Everyday you would find 10 AI tools to make your life simple, where has all that gone? 

I believe we are still a long way away from actual basic intelligence that can help you make any serious decision. If tomorrow somebody really built an AI that helps you make sure shot money, you would be the last person to know about it.

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