BY JOE PROCOPIO, FOUNDER
I think we've reached peak fear-mongering for A.I. as it relates to taking jobs from hard-working folks. Maybe they can still paint a little bit more dystopian hellscape to squeeze the last of the clicks out of us, but if you haven't already found yourself in a dark moment wondering how to safeguard your position against the machines, well, you might just be a machine yourself.
That's a joke. I like breaking the ice with a joke.
But what I really want to talk about is the one skill you need to A.I.-proof what your company gets paid to do.
And the good news is, a lot of you are already doing it.
If You Can't Beat Them, Please Don't Join Them
Here's what I don't want you to do.
I don't want you to run off with a half-cocked understanding of how Generative A.I. is hitting the mainstream and then come up with some expensive and useless use case of someone else's tech that is only going to make you more disposable and someone else a little more rich.
Yeah, kids, the GPT gold rush is over. It happened quick, like when a lot of folks were still buying NFTs. But Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are involved now, they'll take it from here, like the FBI commandeering jurisdiction from the local sheriff. So unless you plan on getting deep into the deep tech, don't try to start a dot-a-i copycat.
I've been involved with Natural Language Generation (NLG) and Generative A.I. since 2010, and to be totally transparent, I still need a bunch of refreshers on the tech to get me back up to speed on the low-level code.
But to be even more honest, I'm not burning a lot of midnight oil trying to figure out the syntax that's all of a sudden making people with money throw that money at people who are getting machines to do what they've always done, only faster.
I'm more concerned with coming up with the right possibilities to maximize those advances.
GPTs Are Hitting Us Like Bricks
That's happening and it's not going to change.
Generative A.I. has pretty much ruined the quest for unique human insight. It's threatening the entire creator economy. And it's got its sights set on knowledge-workers, supporters, salespeople, and even coders.
In one of those articles (I honestly can't remember which), I referenced the need for suboptimal humans like you and me to change our skillset from "knowledge worker" to "knowledgeable worker."
Again, rooted in one of those articles, is the difference between the two terms. When my previous NLG company started automating quarterly earnings reports for the Associated Press, allowing it to increase its output from 100 articles per quarter to 4,400, not one AP journalist lost their job. This was because the AP, in advance, understood and promoted the shift of their journalists' skillset from knowledge worker to knowledgeable worker.
A shift, by the way, their journalists were not only ready for but rejoiced in.
A journalist who regurgitates insights from the data drop of a public company's quarterly earnings release is a knowledge worker. Generative A.I. is very good at regurgitating insights from data at blinding speed. Even more blinding today.
A journalist who understands those insights, can reflect on them and put them in context, talk to the people behind them and the people they impact, and do all that in a way that captures the attention of the people who need that information the most -- those are knowledgeable workers.
The former got taught what to do by some editor or manager and never looked beyond that. The latter developed the skills that turned into the talent that is the reason for journalism in the first place.
You Can't Be Great at One Thing Anymore
Here's the Generative A.I. tectonic shift in a nutshell.
Conventional wisdom and advice have always taught the innovator to focus on being great at one thing. Get really good at it, spend 10,000 hours on it, and then build on that greatness. That's the path to success.
That's no longer true.
Generative A.I. -- in fact all A.I. -- is really good at doing one thing quickly, accurately, and unapologetically.
The era of the knowledge worker is not coming to an end. The era of mastering the niche skill is.
But this has been true for years, maybe decades. Anyone can create content. Anyone can analyze data. Anyone can answer questions. Anyone can sell product.
Now machines can too.
The skill you need to have is understanding the connection between all those simple, repeatable, automatable tasks and figuring out how they become the talent that the "artificial intelligence" is trying to mimic.