Why are you so scared of AI?

The word 'intelligence' chiselled into a boulder
CC image via flickr: David Bruce

You could be forgiven for thinking we currently live in an Issac Asimov-inspired world, given the recent headlines about how artificial intelligence (AI) is going to take over your job.

And, it’s true that some jobs will be replaced by new technology – but that’s nothing new. For centuries, something else has arrived and upset the existing order.

I’m not even talking about the past 50 years – do you think the invention of the spinning jenny in the 18th century was greeted warmly by those who were manually employed to spin cotton?

I work in an industry where, theoretically, I should be worried this time. The arrival of ChatGPT seems to spell the death knell for people who play with words for a living. After all, enter the prompt: “write a 500-word blog post about the threat of artificial intelligence to those working in the creative industries” and it spits out a coherent, fairly well-written piece.

So, should I be heading over to LinkedIn jobs to work out how I can best transfer my, um, transferable skills to a different industry? Is my ability to wrangle words and concepts now as useful as a fork in a sugar bowl?

I’d aver ‘no’. For starters, I don’t just deal in ‘words’. I deal in ideas and creativity. And that’s an area where AI will always struggle to beat out a human.

This Twitter thread shows just how creativity will always trump robots

But speaking to the title of this post, rather than scare us, what AI should do is give us a dose of reality. And it should get us to reconsider how we carry out our jobs and if there are ways we can improve.

Back in 2010, the always-readable Dave Trott cited this (and I doubt the numbers have changed much close to 20 years on)

In 2005, £18.3 Billion was spent on all forms of advertising and marketing.

4% was remembered positively.

7% was remembered negatively.

89% wasn’t even noticed or remembered.

So, provably, about 90% of advertising is a waste of money.

If you work in marketing, think about the content you produce. I’m thinking press releases, blog posts, tweets, videos, Facebook posts, Instagram Reels… you get the idea?

How much of your content ‘lands’ or is really just landfill? Given that we produce probably 10 times as much content in 2023 as we did in 2005, are we really giving enough thought to what we put out?

I’m not claiming to be some paragon of virtue here. I’ve absolutely put out stuff to which I didn’t pay enough attention.

But the point here is, I could have done. I could have made a change that would have made the content get noticed. I could have considered if there was a different approach that would have far out-performed anything an AI-bot could produce.

It’s about where you focus your attention. About what’s important. And about whether you care.

So remember why humans and, specifically, the human mind is so much better than a computer sitting on a bunch of servers somewhere in San Francisco.

That’s why you shouldn’t be scared of AI… unless you choose to be!

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