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AI is taking over the world, but I'm not ready for it
I feel like I’m at a crossroads. A part of me is urging me to follow along with all the recent advances in AI and large language models like ChatGPT, while the other is stubbornly rooted in place and refusing to move. I think this is what my parents must’ve felt like when computers and smartphones started taking over the world — overwhelmed and dreading a future where they’re obsolete. If I don’t move soon, it’ll be too late to catch up because AI is quickly and surely taking over the world, and I’m not ready for it.
A quick look at my For You Twitter tab today shows I-don’t-know-how-many threads from accounts (I can’t tell if they’re real people or not anymore!) flaunting the discovery of a new GPT4 capability, a new Midjourney prompt idea, another ground-breaking text-to-video or music or whatever media generator, a GPT plugin or integration that automates many important daily tasks and generates money, plus a vast number of new and innovative AI services, and more.
Even notoriously slow Adobe is getting on board with its new Firefly generative AI, and Google has stepped on the gas pedal with Bard. And everyone can’t stop talking about Microsoft who’s practically announcing one new AI service every week now. If you’re still thinking about Bing Chat and ChatGPT, you’re a few weeks behind — we’ve already hopped to the Bing Image Creator, Microsoft Copilot, and Loop stage now.
And suddenly, the Pope is wearing Balenciaga … or is he?
It’s too much.
And yes, I realize I sound like an old man yelling at the clouds, but can I just acknowledge that I need a breather? This is nothing like my parents’ experience with computers and smartphones, nor is it anything like what I felt when the young’uns started using Snapchat and TikTok while I stuck to YouTube and Twitter like a true millennial. It’s nothing like that because it’s not just tech innovation; it’s daily, nay, hourly, and frenetic innovation. It’s Her at the speed of 2 Fast 2 Furious and J.A.R.V.I.S. at the speed of, well, J.A.R.V.I.S.
This isn't just tech innovation; it's daily, nay, hourly, and frenetic innovation. It's impossible to keep up.
Previous tech innovations took years to develop and become pervasive, and those who wanted to jump on board had time to ease into them. With AI, it feels like I don’t have the luxury of slow adoption. I can’t realistically dedicate my entire time to it, but simply checking developments and testing some tools during some off-hours barely scratches the surface. And my job revolves around tech. I can’t imagine what those who don’t have tech-centric jobs are thinking now — or maybe they’re not bothered because they’re blissfully unaware of AI’s full potential or because they think it’s another Blockchain-NFT-Web3–Metaverse fad.
But AI with natural language processing is different. It clearly is. We’re looking at a tectonic revolution in computing, and one that’s far more paradigm-shifting than graphical interfaces, the web, touch, smartphones, or apps and services were in the last couple of decades. I grew up in a world where the GameBoy was considered a mind-blowing tech and I’ve had to teach myself everything about computing from mIRC onwards because my parents couldn’t help. I’d like to think that I did a good job of it all given my personal circumstances, yet I feel ill-equipped to deal with this impending shift.
We're not well-equipped to deal with a world where AI-generated content is everywhere.
Maybe it’s because of my personal journey that I dread this AI future, despite the “blink and I’ll miss it” anxiety of being left behind. I don’t think we’re well-equipped to detect ever-improving AI images and videos, nor do we have the tools for proper sourcing and fact-checking in place. Spam and phishing could soon become indistinguishable from genuine messages, so much so that the best of us might fall for them. There are no policies in place to guarantee job security for millions of people who may soon become non-essential. And that’s without mentioning the potential end-of-the-world I, Robot meets The Matrix scenarios.
I know I’m rambling, but hey, my aunt still forwards me obvious spam messages and asks me if she should trust them; how do I expect her to deal with AI-generated videos when even I can barely tell the difference?
I’m not sure how to end this article. This is an ongoing conversation in my head and one I’m sure will uncover more and more of its facets with time. Do I jump on the AI hype train and dedicate time to mastering its tools and prompts and every trick in the book to make the most of it? Or do I stare at my screen as more people adopt the tech while I stay paralyzed thinking of its overwhelming power and unpredictable consequences? I’m both too old to do the former and too young to settle for the latter.