The future of workplace, life and business through AI lens

Below is my reflection of the AI related news from the past week. These are likely to be changes that’ll impact us in the long run.

mj5 /imagine prompt: puzzled humans listening to AI generated podcasts:: cartoon::1 rene magritte::1 –v 4

Does your favourite LLM/chatbot/machine know the topic to the extent it will not attempt to wing it in order to please you with its response? It’s not new for AI models to hallucinate, but with convincing enough content we wish that away. A case for future legal professionals to ponder over.

How would you value your favourite podcast being autogenerated? What content will be it based on? And what about the time when the original content creators stop producing input? Is it just a fad or something that can and will be monetised? Would you care how the script and delivery were by non-human actors if all you are after, is information + conversation? Or would you care for connection to the presenters? Who says AI can’t actively engage with the audience replicating the human host? I believe the generative AI can’t yet be creative enough to shift the tone (pun attended!) and topic half-way. Would we even want to develop such capabilities? Wired covers the topic here.

Would the game creators determine the end result or just set loose boundaries of how certain external factors might play out? And then leave it to the models to provide the (ever changing) story that provides customised experience to every player? Am I hallucinating? Nvidia’s recent announcement on autogenerated content.

3000 US workers were asked about their attitude towards AI in the workplace. You might guess that older generations are more concerned than younger and less likely to adopt to the AI driven tools. As it turns out, the response is very similar across all age groups and probably depends more on the personal circumstances like job role, awareness and financial position. I’d like to see something similar done in other economic drivers in EU as well. Full report is available here.

Meanwhile, according to Washington Post, many organisations are considering replacing their copywriters with ChatGPT. And those writing copy, according to the article, are trying their best to dissuade their employers by focusing on the poor output of the generative AI tools. Would it not be more persuasive to give the employer a comparison of output and point out how they would use the new tools to enhance their work and reduce their customer’s service cost? Perhaps the people interviewed were unhappy with their current choice and considered shifting to non-digital occupations already? Either way, the AI-driven world is not going to slow down and many white-collar jobs will be lost for good. The governments should consider mandating lowering the cost of goods and services for businesses that are replacing their workforce by AI tools and not filling the positions. A bit invasive capitalism, I know. But the machines are disrupting the world as we know it at the rate not seen before.

On with the journalism. If you’ve heard of Artifact app, or using it, you’ll appreciate its slick clean lines and … otherwise it’s as any other modern news aggregator. The team has now built capacity for rewriting the clickbaity headlines using GPT4. The next step is to train the algorithm to recognise noise and alter it’s headline automagically. The problem? Well funded apps can provide good, free aggregated content. Everyone else wants to sell more ad space. I wonder how long will it take for others to follow the suit. And how little for the content mills (that are already using ChatGPT and other generative AI tools) to tweak their output to install multiple clickbaits into one story? Seems like an opportunity for all involved to win more consumer screen time.

Security is necessary, but oftentimes inconvenience. The response is… biometrics, isn’t it? This Babbage podcast episode from The Economist explores the opportunities and threats associated with generative AI and biometrics. A simple reminder – a secret (=password) is something you know, feature (=biometrics) something you have. The former can be changed at ease, and the impact of a lost password can in most cases be stopped or even reversed. Your biometric data is public – I can recognise your face and voice. When your biometric metadata becomes public though (knowledge what is looks and sounds like plus knowledge on how to easily replicate it), the sky becomes slightly cloudier – it’s very hard if not impossible to change your biometrics. Listen to the episode here, it’s rather thought provoking.

I have to agree with Andrew Ng on this one – AI should be seen as a solution, not the problem. However, it’s worthwhile setting the safe boundaries to avoid a large-scale mishaps should it connect to the critical infrastructure and start acting as a chaos monkey. Generating stories to match its suggestions is not too inhuman activity, so probably its creators have tweaked ChatGPT to find evidence where is none. You believe it? Well, we told you, they may be bonkers.

Ukrainian Diia app is starting to make waves. It was inspired by Estonian governmental systems experience, and now our mRiik is taking inspiration from it. When the state digital services are accessible to you when you need them regardless of your location, they will be used. Axios covers the Diia story.

Microsoft is trying to get you to use Teams for business and personal use alike. Detractors noise aside, ability to easily set up online communities is never a bad thing. Even better, if this comes sans near compulsory advertising stream, seen in every commercially minded ‘free’ platform. As Teams is baked into Windows 11 and many people are actively using it, I’d like Microsoft product teams agreeing on timeline for culling Skype and a tool for easily migrating the content history. This has so far been seen as too laborious and hence the steam has gone to push for Teams. Old habits die hard and many will find no compelling reasons to learn to use another messaging platform. I think Microsoft needs to rethink what are the customers getting? Integrated version of AI-supported Microsoft Designer may be it, but not necessarily. In other minor note, as Windows Copilot enters the user realm, Microsoft is quietly pushing Cortana out of it. Did you ever use it? And how was it compared to Siri and Alexa?

WSJ writes about two types of CxO’s – ones who are gung ho about the AI enabled software development and others, who’s perspective also includes risk. The latter camp is very critical about the amount of code being churned out by human-machine combo, that eventually makes it to enterprise catalogue and needs to be maintained. I think Paulo Rosado, the Chief Executive of company called OutSystems is spot on with his caution.

Technical debt and orphan code have long been challenges that have plagued CIOs. As more and more code is built, there’s naturally confusion that comes with understanding what certain code does and how it was created, he said. As developers leave companies, that confusion intensifies and as time goes on a growing pile of code becomes more and more difficult to keep up to date. I do expect these issues to be aggravated by generative AI coding tools. 

WSJ “AI Is Writing Code Now. For Companies, That Is Good and Bad.”

More companies expect workers to return to the offices for at least three days a week. Meta is one of the tech giants to mandate that from September. One could wager that corporate real estate needs to be used, or that we are in general more effective and productive when we have the human connection, i.e. working together in a physical space. My take is that it really depends on the needs set by the role and individual circumstances. And preferences. What’s your take?

Amazon has started rolling out AI based tools to enhance its logistics operations. You could see it in two ways – either to raise customer satisfaction or reduce reliance on human workers. Or both. The statements are interesting to read. Jeremy Wyatt, director of applied science at Amazon Robotics, said of detecting a faulty item “That’s cognitively demanding because obviously you’re looking for something that’s rare and it’s not your primary job”. It might feel as an assumption on the warehouse worker not being the smartest. But their metrics are not set on quality, but on the throughput per hour. I don’t think we should design systems, where the humans do lower cognitive jobs than machines. IMHO the human should be collaborating with the machine working on their optimum mental capacity. Yes, in the future it means less jobs in logistics sector that feeds our collective desire for more stuff ASAP. This raises again a question for the governments – what are the effective policies shaping the future and preparing the workforce for it?

To wrap up, Telly is going to start shipping free 55″ 4K TV’s for those who signed up for the service. Yes, service, not a freebie. I’d love to understand the business model and ROI calculations a bit more. Extending these into hotels is also clever move, but then you’ll need to figure out how to partner with the hotels who currently hold the monopoly for the visitors free time at screen. Who knew, advertisers are willing to pay that much for the attention!

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