One weird trick, a bunny, and ChatGPT

railroad tracks in autumn

I’m not exactly sure why clickbait so often begins with “one weird trick”, but I figure if I include that phrase, plus “ChatGPT”, you’ll be hooked. Besides, that headline scores really well with SEO! I know, I know, SEO isn’t everything. Especially in the dry, Eastern Washington desert where we eat sagebrush for breakfast and tumbleweeds for dinner. But, since everyone has been talking nonstop for the past two weeks (has it been so long?!) about how ChatGPT is going to end the world, I knew that I needed to weigh in. That is, I needed to do it before the next thing comes to end the world, like a comet, or an enormous flood, or a giant bunny rabbit with very sharp teeth…

The End of the World as We Know It

This topic of “the end of the world as we know it” is not a new phenomenon, although it has certainly gained steam over the past few years. In fact, today’s world is in many ways unrecognizable from the world of just a few years ago. I’m not going to go into that. What interests me is the idea that somehow modern technology is going to eliminate the need for people.

This has been a very common fear for people, probably since the beginning of time. This is obviously the case over the past 150 years, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It was initially epitomized by the story of John Henry, a man who competed against a steam drill press in laying spikes for a railroad. He won, barely, and then died shortly afterwards due to overexertion. This idea was more recently highlighted in the 1990’s when the “supercomputer” Deep Blue, after a lot of upgrades, defeated Garry Kasparov in chess. (I put supercomputer in quotes because today’s iPhone is superior in many ways to the supercomputers of the 90’s.)

Even more dynamic, modern examples in the Tri Cities are the following: the need for paper and Boise Cascade, the need for cashiers when we have self checkout, and the need for cattle farmers when we have meat from a petri dish.

Artificial Intelligence, not the Ultimate Threat?

Anyway, I don’t think this fear is going away anytime soon because we are only human and we need something to fear. So I did the reasonable thing and asked the smartest AI that I know if it were a valid fear… this was their response:

As an AI language model, ChatGPT has the potential to automate certain tasks that involve generating text, such as summarizing information, answering questions, and generating reports. However, it is important to note that AI technology is not designed to eliminate jobs, but rather to augment human work and make tasks easier, more efficient, and more accurate.

In some cases, the use of AI and language models like ChatGPT can lead to job displacement, as certain tasks previously performed by humans are now performed by machines. However, in many cases, AI also creates new job opportunities and industries, as it requires individuals with expertise in areas such as machine learning, natural language processing, and software engineering.

Overall, while AI has the potential to automate certain tasks and change the job market, it is unlikely to eliminate jobs entirely. Instead, AI will likely lead to a shift in the types of jobs that are in demand and the skills that are valued in the workforce.

So, it looks like we’re safe after all and have nothing to worry about! Aren’t you glad that I pointed out this one weird trick? Now the question remains, do you agree with ChatGPT? Will your work be easier, more efficient and more accurate because of AI? Will we need lawyers?

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