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Preparing for AI: Lessons from the Past

March 23, 2023 0 Comments

When I was growing up, I imagined a future with robots like those in The Jetsons.

While these types of robots are coming, what many of us aren’t aware of is that artificial intelligence is already here and it’s a major disruptor.

And, as much as we want to, we cannot ignore it any longer. It’s changing industries, companies, culture, and how we live our daily lives.

AI uses algorithms to allow a machine to carry out actions that were once carried out by humans. A branch of AI is machine learning, where computers have the ability to learn from themselves and begin to carry out tasks autonomously.

Another branch of AI is hyper-personalization, where individuals receive hyper-individualized products, ads, or services.

AI also includes chatbots and smart assistants.

Knowing what AI technically is, take a second and think about all the things in your life that utilize AI.

Here are just a few off the top of my head:

  • Smart assistants like Alexa and Siri
  • Chatbots on websites
  • Virtual travel booking sites
  • Robot vacuum cleaners
  • Robo financial advisors
  • Google maps
  • Social media
  • Smart home devices (smart plugs, etc.)
  • Netflix
  • Amazon
  • Fitbit type watches
  • Music streaming services
  • Video games
  • Self-checkout
  • Online advertisements

We’ve been wowed by how much easier AI makes our lives without realizing how quickly it is overtaking our day-to-day lives.

The problem, as Glenn Beck states, is that “It’s [AI] paying attention to us instead of us paying attention to it.”

And that is extremely dangerous when you consider how powerful AI can become.

During the 2021 South by Southwest tech conference in Austin, Texas, billionaire Elon Musk told the crowd, “Mark my words, AI is far more dangerous than nukes. […] I am really quite close to the cutting edge in AI, and it scares the hell out of me. […] It’s capable of vastly more than almost anyone knows, and the rate of improvement is exponential.”

Stephen Hawking said something very similar. “Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid, the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization.”

All that to say – AI is going to be a major disruptor in our lives. It already is.

Instead of panicking or sticking our heads in the sand, we need to look at it and understand how it will alter our lives forever. If we don’t, we can’t prepare.

When a tech disruption occurred in history, the world changed. Fast.

So let’s take a look at tech disruptions and what’s going on now with AI so we can better prepare for an uncertain future.

Understanding the Nature of Tech Disruptions

Tech disruption refers to the significant and sudden changes that occur in an industry or market as a result of technological advancements or innovations.

These changes can fundamentally alter the way that businesses operate, the products and services they offer, and the way consumers interact with them.

Tech disruption often involves the introduction of new technologies or approaches that displace existing methods or products, leading to the demise of established players and the emergence of new leaders.

For example, the rise of smartphones disrupted the traditional mobile phone market, while streaming services have disrupted the traditional television and movie industry.

While AI can lead to increased efficiency, improved products, and greater convenience for consumers, it can also result in job loss and other economic disruptions for those who are unable to adapt to the changes.

Tech Disruptions In History

A Forbes article featuring Harvard history professor Jill Lepore claims, “There has been a repeating pattern of massive disruption that has occurred regularly over the last 250 years at intervals of around 50-60 years. When a transformational technology appears, an explosion of energy can occur, as the existing ways of operating are disrupted by those who have mastered the new technology. New businesses prosper and old ways of doing things collapse and vanish.”

Here are some examples that come to mind.

  • New machinery introduced during The Industrial Revolution put an end to craft and artisan production.
  • Steam locomotives replaced horse-drawn trains, which were later disrupted by diesel engines.
  • The innovation of the automobile by Henry Ford put an end to horse and equestrian transportation.
  • Mobile phones have essentially put an end to landlines.
  • Kodak went bankrupt after digital cameras flooded the market.

Some of the most notable tech disruptions in recent history that transformed industries and societies – and our own lives – include:

  • The internet: The internet has revolutionized the way people communicate, work, and consume information. It has created new industries, such as e-commerce, social media, and online education.
  • Personal computers: The personal computer has transformed the way people work and access information. It has enabled the creation of new industries, such as software development and video game development.
  • Mobile phones: Mobile phones have disrupted the telecommunications industry and enabled people to stay connected on the go. They have also given rise to new industries, such as mobile app development.
  • Digital photography: The advent of digital photography has revolutionized the way people take, store, and share photographs. It has enabled the creation of new industries, such as social media and online photo-sharing platforms.
  • Blockchain technology: Blockchain technology has disrupted the financial industry and enabled the creation of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.

History has shown that when an industry is disrupted, new jobs are created to replace the lost ones.

Investopedia explains, “While buggy makers and horse trainers saw their jobs disappear, many more new jobs were created in car factories, road and bridge construction, and other industries.”

With that being said, there is reason to fear the current AI disruption we are facing.

As AI takes over, more jobs and industries will be destroyed, and there may not be jobs to replace those lost.

This is why some experts worry the destruction component of AI may outweigh the creation.

The Current AI and ChatGPT Situation

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that launched in November 2022, and it’s currently disrupting everything from journalism to classrooms.

The reason the current AI and ChatGPT situation is alarming is that it does have the power to outweigh the creation of new jobs.

To put it simply – they call AI devices “smart” devices for a reason.

They are smart, and they are getting smarter every day.

The more we interact with AI, the smarter it becomes.

Essentially, AI already knows everything and may start to discover things even we don’t know.

Glenn Beck reports, “This is why Microsoft unplugged their first chatbot. It was talking to another chatbot, and everybody was really excited until about fifteen minutes in. Because of machine learning, it started using a new language that the other machine understood and that it understood that they had just taught each other quickly. And it started having a conversation we couldn’t follow or understand, and we unplugged it.”

But ChatGPT isn’t being unplugged. It is quickly taking over.

For example, Buzzfeed discovered they could use ChatGPT to write articles, and their stock price soared.

Ironically, as I was researching this topic, I received an email from Google inviting me to join the Bard waitlist (Google’s ChatGPT competitor).

The email suggests, “Think of Bard as your creative and helpful collaborator, here to bring your ideas to life using generative AI. You might ask Bard to outline a blog post about summer mocktail recipes, draft a packing list for a weekend fishing and camping trip, or help you understand if lightning can strike the same place twice.”

Part of the issue is that many of us are looking for giant robots without realizing AI is already here all around us, getting smarter each day and quickly replacing jobs.

But it’s more than that.

This type of technology can be used not only to disrupt industries but to cause serious harm.

Digital Trends reports, “In a survey of 1,500 IT and cybersecurity professionals conducted by BlackBerry, 51% of respondents believed that ChatGPT will be responsible for a successful cyberattack in the next 12 months. As much as 78% feel that an attack will happen within two years, while a handful think it could happen within the next few months.”

Moreover, experts are very concerned that chatbots, such as ChatGPT, will be used to create and spread persuasive propaganda.

To drive the point home, in February 2023, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commerce Department announced the creation of the Disruptive Technology Strike Force with a “mission to prevent nation-state ‘adversaries’ from acquiring ‘disruptive’ technologies.”

How to Prepare for the AI Tech Disruption

As Beck states, “We aren’t headed anywhere. We have arrived.” The AI tech disruption is already happening. If you haven’t started preparing, you’re already late.

Here are some ways to prepare for the big changes coming our way.

  • Stay aware. It is scary, but you cannot ignore it.
  • Save money. In case of job loss, you want to have some money in the bank to make ends meet.
  • Learn new skills if your job or industry is destroyed.
  • Learn new skills that make you even more valuable in your current position.

One last tip. Practice preparedness.

We don’t know exactly what the future holds, but what we do know is ChatGPT creator Sam Altman has admitted he is “a little bit scared” of the potential of the technology and is a prepper.

In a profile with the New Yorker a few years ago, Altman said, “I prep for survival. […] I try not to think about it too much. […] But I have guns, gold, potassium iodide, antibiotics, batteries, water, gas masks from the Israeli Defense Force, and a big patch of land in Big Sur I can fly to."

If the inventor is prepping for survival, so should we.

Don’t bury your head in the sand, friends.

In liberty,

Elizabeth Anderson

Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply

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