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On Tuesday, May 16, Mr. Altman went to Washington. And today, the world feels a little scarier.
There’s so much movement, so much talk, and so much concern around the rapid surge of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into every area of our lives. There’s rarely a day when we don’t hear some new report about the groundbreaking impact – and potential danger – of this technology. Large learning models like ChatGPT have caught the world by surprise based on the speed of their learning and what they are now able to do.
So, it was only a matter of time before the government stepped in. Anything moving this fast, with this much of an impact on society, will inevitably face questions around risk and regulation. That’s why this week, Sam Altman, the CEO of ChatGPT, went to Washington, to testify at a hearing about congressional oversight and regulation of generative AI.
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It was an uncomfortable discussion; more like something we’d expect from a sci-fi series. Consider some of the language we’re hearing both on Capitol Hill and from companies concerned about AI:
The fact that Congress is moving in a bipartisan way on trying to regulate AI, and the fact that the very inventors of the technology and those with skin in the game like Elon Musk are on the front line, leading the warning cry and asking for regulation, should give us reason to hit pause on the industry.
There is clearly a need for regulation, as there is for other potentially harmful industries, from cigarettes to nuclear energy.
But in the heat of the moment, amid the concern and fear, let’s not lose sight of the exciting potential for AI. Whether you love it, loathe it, are excited by it, or afraid of it, AI is here to stay. And it’s already touching your life in one way or another.
In the wake of Altman’s visit to Capitol Hill, it’s a good moment to rethink and possibly reframe some perceptions and positions around AI, without arguing that it needs regulation. Here are four quick things to consider, or potential ways to reframe the debate about this mind-blowing technology:
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But it’s not just about coming after us and replacing jobs. Instead of viewing AI as a job stealer, why not frame it as a potential enhancer of productivity? Throughout history, tech innovation that initially displaced workers also created employment growth over the long haul.
According to the Goldman Sachs report, widespread adoption of AI could ultimately increase labor productivity — and boost global GDP by 7% annually over a 10-year period. “The combination of significant labor cost savings, new job creation, and a productivity boost for non-displaced workers raises the possibility of a labor productivity boom like those that followed the emergence of earlier general-purpose technologies like the electric motor and personal computer.”
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In our own firm, we’re exploring ways to use generative AI to support and enhance our work. And we’re already seeing great potential for it to improve our productivity. Instead of being afraid of it, we need to embrace it. And our language should reflect that shift in mindset.
Lee Carter is the president and partner of maslansky + partners, a language strategy firm based on the idea that “it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear” and author of “Persuasion: Convincing Others When Facts Don’t Seem to Matter.” Follow her on Twitter on @lh_carter