In the name of social experiment (and delegation), I have turned over the opening paragraph of this latest editor’s letter to those in my immediate vicinity. Here’s what they came up with.
“It was a dark and stormy night.” -husband, go-to storytime start
“Editing is confusing.” -daughter, 10, wise beyond her years
“As the seasons change and the world continues to evolve, I find myself reflecting on the remarkable tapestry of stories that shape our lives. Each day brings new challenges, triumphs, and discoveries that inspire us to connect, learn, and grow. In this edition, we invite you to embark on a journey through the pages of our magazine, where we’ve woven together a diverse array of narratives, insights, and perspectives from around the globe. Settle in and allow these words to transport you into the heart of our ever-changing world.” -ChatGPT, prompted to write the opening paragraph for a letter from the editor, tends to go overboard on adjectives
So, there’s that.
Despite the explosion of applications and platforms this year around generative artificial intelligence, the concept of AI has been around much longer.
AI is practically GenX. Teen computer hacker Matthew Broderick went cursor-to-cursor with an artificial intelligence-enabled super-computer in 1983’s WarGames
This was 40 years before New York Times’ technology columnist and Hard Fork
podcast co-host Kevin Roose penned his piece in February (going instantly viral) about the unsettling conversations he had with an AI chat engine that detailed a desire to steal nuclear secrets, let loose a deadly virus and ultimately declare its love to the author.
It was everything that ’80s movies from The Terminator
to Blade Runner
warned us about.
But don’t forget, there was also Short Circuit’s
Johnny 5, a wide-eyed robot à la WALL
that uses machine learning to cement his endearing character status. Even the menacing computer threat in WarGames
figured out in the end that Cold War-era, mutual-assured nuclear destruction was a waste of time and chose to play chess instead.
So, where are we now, outside of nostalgic Hollywood?
The mass popularity of AI-enabled large language models this year has brought the technology to the forefront of discussions for many industries, giving pause for them to learn where they are now and what lies ahead (for a roundtable discussion from some of those sectors, click here
It’s easy to poke fun at generative AI’s current shortcomings – from extra fingers on people graphics to weird language and made-up facts in text. But much like the internet, smartphones and streaming TV, changes are coming.
OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT and DALL-E, is focused on AGI, artificial general intelligence, or “systems that are generally smarter than humans,” according to the company. The same platform that wrote the above awkward and funny opus about changing seasons for this issue is on track to generate more than $1 billion in revenue over the next year, according to Reuters.
People will not (one hopes) be replaced by AI or AGI, but people who don’t know the right way to leverage artificial intelligence will be at a disadvantage.
Each industry is different. I’ve personally for years used predictive AI tools for transcribing interviews and web analytics, for example. In real reporting and photojournalism, news is not fake, and there should be close attention to protect that as the tools that help us continue to evolve.
As John Connor says, “The future has not been written. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.”