Managing Technology Innovation for a Better Future

Technological innovation has been rapid. In 1993, the Mosaic browser was launched. Recently, OpenAI released ChatGPT, putting into spotlight the effect of AI on society. AI could lead to hard-coding existing inequalities. Therefore, we have to ensure access, training and privacy standards for the fast-emerging AI to create a better future for all.

ChatGPT Chat with AI or Artificial Intelligence. Digital chatbot, robot application, OpenAI generate. Futuristic technology. © khunkornStudio /

February 24, 2023 00:51 EDT

Living in Silicon Valley, we’re reminded that the pace of change and innovation is increasing. The first significant moment was in 1993 when Marc Andreessen launched the Mosaic browser, giving the world its first taste of the possibilities of the internet. The second came on June 29, 2007, when Steve Jobs launched the Apple iPhone. 

Overnight, every human on the planet could access every library, museum, song catalog, and more, all in their back pocket. The third epiphany has just occurred with Sam Altman and OpenAI releasing ChatGPT.

ChatGPT, AI and Society

ChatGPT is the result of decades of advances in artificial intelligence (AI). AI can now summarize scientific papers, compose songs, paint pictures and write code. For the first time, an app on your smartphone can do more than just provide facts like who won the World Cup game today. 

You can now ask it to write a press release for your company or complete your kid’s application to Stanford through a simple, interactive question-and-answer format. The app will respond in seconds in a way indistinguishable from something a brilliant human being would write.

You no longer have to face a blank screen and a flashing cursor. AI can provide you with the rough draft for most creative content. Enter a prompt, and it will give you choices. Pick one of them and start editing. Your art will be based on your knowledge and how you fine-tune the details.

Every great leap forward has significant consequences, from nuclear energy’s destructive power to social media’s disruptive impact. The rise of advanced AI is no exception. As this technology evolves, it will render millions of jobs obsolete, impacting every profession. Accounting, journalism, creative arts and even the judiciary will be affected. The transformational power of AI is evident. However, we must manage its impact on society to ensure that we create a better future for all.

The past can be a guide to the future. Industrialization made many professions obsolete and caused massive disruption to society. Yet factory automation, business software and industrial robots did not result in mass unemployment. On the whole, they made workers more productive. 

AI for Benefit of All

There is no reason we cannot similarly harness AI. We should be doing three things today to make OpenAI work for everyone.

The first is access. We need to make AI technology available to schools, libraries and community centers so that every child can access it from an early age. Only then can we begin to address the growing gap in income equality that plagues our society. 

The second is training. We should train our young people, especially those in underserved communities, to use the extraordinary power provided by new AI tools such as Midjourney, Jasper and CoPilot. Getting our children to basic reading comprehension by third grade is no longer enough. We will need to change the curriculum and set standards for every child to have basic proficiency in using AI. 

The third is privacy. We need to set clear privacy standards to protect everyone’s personal information. 

Over the next decade, the benefits of advanced AI will have an extraordinary impact on every sector of our lives. But as everyone who remembers HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s visionary movie A Space Odyssey knows, we would be wise to anticipate and manage the unintended consequences of computers that dominate our lives.

It is important to remember that ChatGPT works by pattern matching across the entire corpus of previously collected human knowledge and extrapolating from the most likely word and number sequences from before. It is good at providing drafts for editing and fine-tuning. But it is not capable of original thought. In the future, it may be necessary for us to clearly mark where ChatGPT has been used in content creation. By doing so, consumers can decide how much to rely on its veracity. The context will matter—high confidence for a business meeting summary, less so for surgery instructions.

At the current rate of technological change, there is no guarantee that there will be another 50 years to set standards to manage the extraordinary advances that human ingenuity is creating. We need to start thinking about them now. But, if we can take the lessons we’ve learned about protecting personal privacy, ensuring equal access, and setting the highest standards for trust and safety, this may be the biggest leap forward in human history. [Conner Tighe edited this article.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.


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