(This is the last of a 5-post series attempting to explain the AI landscape in a practical and simple way. See other posts here.)

Human evolution, wingdings, the Wright Brothers, Uncle Trunk… we’ve been on quite a journey. (If you haven’t been following, go back to the link above!). Hopefully, my last few posts have helped you understand Generative AI and what you should be thinking about. Writing these posts has certainly helped my understanding.

I had never given much thought about AI until last summer, when I wrote a summary of Tim Urban’s 2017 article on Neuralink. Prior to that, I only really noticed when Google would finish my search for me. The feedback I got from the Wait But Why summary made me realize that a lot of people felt just as lost as I did, so I decided to start learning all that I could. 

To recap this series in 5 points:

  1. AI is just a technology–nothing more–that we are all capable of understanding
  2. It is already engrained in our lives; the sooner we accept that, the better
  3. The first step to staying on top of AI is through widespread education; secrecy only limits our imagination (and we aren’t good at imagining what’s possible to begin with)
  4. It will dramatically shake up many of our jobs, but we will adapt and evolve along with it
  5. We should be working inclusively and collectively to ensure the best application to our lives.

If I can leave you with one takeaway, it is that we all need to be driving more nuanced conversations around AI. 

There are folks in the r/singularity crowd who are convinced that we need to stop AI development before it takes over humanity, who fail to acknowledge how technological advancement has always been a net positive for society. There are folks in the e/acc (“effective accelerationism”) crowd who think technological advancement is the cure for everything, who fail to acknowledge the value of having responsible guardrails in place. Both viewpoints have merit, but dividing into camps won’t get us where we need to go. 

My approach is to be curious and inclusive. I’ve been reading all I can, asking as many questions as I can, and experimenting with as many tools as I can. I can’t say for certain exactly what my day-to-day job will look like in 5 years, but I’m sure that the more I understand the technology and its application, the better I’ll be prepared to adapt and thrive. 

For me, the most exciting thing about the onset of Generative AI is that leaning into our individualism will be rewarded. I’ve always been a bit of a black sheep, and not doing things like everyone else does has caused me pain at some stops along my journey. But in a world where Gen AI will become way better than us at doing things like everyone else does, creative individualism will be more valuable than ever. If you think like everybody else, Gen AI can already out-think you. 

AI is better at facts than we are, but we tell better stories–stories that we can only collect through our lived experience. 

I’m also excited about how Gen AI will change what we value in leaders. Historically, we’ve placed people who speak the most or speak the loudest–projecting knowledge–in positions of power, for better or worse. Since Gen AI will limit the playing field of factual knowledge, I believe the most effective leadership qualities of the near future will be things like curiosity, intellectual humility, the ability to listen, the flexibility to pivot, and the confidence to be vulnerable and human. Those are qualities people will rally behind.

Thanks for reading this series–it has been fun to write. I welcome any feedback and look forward to connecting more with the curious among you.

“Many of us find that communicating our thoughts is a supremely enjoyable learning experience.” -Psychologist Jamie Pennebaker