Imagine, if you will, a time when writing code was an arduous task, limited only to those with years of education and experience. A time when, much like a painter creating a masterpiece, each line of code had to be meticulously crafted and curated. Then, like a magic spell, generative AI appeared on the scene and turned the world of programming on its head, as I describe in my book on this topic. If you’re finding it hard to imagine, then hold tight, because that’s precisely the journey you will undertake based on my interview with Sam McKay, the Founder and CEO of Enterprise DNA.
The Generative AI Revolution
Generative AI has been a game-changer in the realm of programming, especially with the advent of low-code/no-code platforms. Imagine if you could tell a genie to build you an app, and voila! It’s done. That’s what generative AI feels like. It translates high-level instructions into functional code, turning anyone into a developer, even without extensive coding knowledge. It’s like having a universal translator, but instead of languages, it translates abstract ideas into tangible applications.
However, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. As liberating as this sounds, it’s crucial to remember that foundational coding skills are still an essential piece of the puzzle. While generative AI can bake the cake, it often needs a human hand to add the icing and sprinkles.
The Evolution and Breakthroughs in Generative AI
Generative AI has not always been this advanced. Think of it as a superhero origin story, starting from a humble beginning and growing stronger with each challenge. The turning point was the development of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), a brainchild of Ian Goodfellow and his colleagues. GANs are like an artist and a critic locked in an eternal battle, producing incredibly high-quality synthetic data.
Another significant leap was the introduction of transformer-based models, such as the GPT series. Think of these models as diligent students, absorbing sequential data and producing impressive language generation capabilities. From GPT-1 to GPT-4, these models have grown in strength and power, enabling them to generate more accurate and contextually relevant outputs.
The Yin and Yang of Generative AI and Discriminative AI
Now, if you’re thinking all AI is the same, let me stop you right there. Generative AI and discriminative AI are two sides of the same coin, each with its unique value proposition.
If Generative AI were a novelist, creating new characters and plots, discriminative AI would be a detective, identifying patterns and making predictions based on given data. In essence, while generative AI paints a picture, discriminative AI tells you what the picture represents.
Generative AI has not just stayed within the confines of academia and research but has made a significant impact across industries and society. It’s like a modern-day renaissance, influencing art, creativity, healthcare, virtual reality, gaming, language translation, and assistive technologies. It’s akin to having an invisible workforce, creating new content, generating synthetic medical images, translating languages, and even making virtual assistants sound more natural.
Training a generative AI model is akin to training a marathon runner. It requires vast resources, time, and a careful balance to avoid overfitting (where the model memorizes the training data and fails to generalize to new data). Overcoming these challenges is a bit like training a pet; it requires patience, consistency, and a lot of treats (or in this case, computational power and time).
Despite its superpowers, generative AI has its kryptonite. It can sometimes suffer from mode collapse (repetitive and limited output), lack of control over the output, and inference errors. However, with continuous research and development, these issues can be addressed, much like a software update fixing the bugs in a system.
The Ethical Maze of Generative AI
With great power comes great responsibility, and generative AI is no exception. Misinformation, privacy concerns, bias, and content moderation are just a few ethical considerations that we need to navigate carefully.
And that’s short-term concerns. In the long term, experts highlight that AI poses a serious risk of human extinction. It’s much like walking a tightrope, balancing the benefits of generative AI while ensuring its responsible use.
The Future Implications
Generative AI will have a profound impact on society. Art and creativity will be revolutionized, with artists collaborating with AI to create new art forms. The entertainment industry will offer personalized and immersive experiences, tailoring content to individual preferences. Brands will use AI for personalized marketing, creating a more targeted interaction with consumers. The job market will see the emergence of new roles, focusing on high-level skills, such as system design, architecture, debugging, and problem-solving.
Generative AI’s coding ability will automate repetitive tasks, increase productivity, and enhance collaboration between humans and AI, creating a symbiotic relationship that will redefine the programming landscape. However, programmers will need to navigate ethical considerations and focus on high-level skills to leverage the full potential of this technology. And we need to address extinction risks.
So buckle up, dear readers. We are on the cusp of a generative AI revolution, and it’s going to be a thrilling ride.
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Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on Jun 2, 2023
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.