In 2023, the conversation around artificial intelligence (AI) reached a new fervour—likely due to a singular new product: ChatGPT. The nifty AI chatbot has been making headlines since its launch in November last year, mainly because it has put the scope of AI intelligence into the hands of the masses. Almost overnight, anyone from social media managers to sales executives found they could feed information into this product and get not only eloquent responses—but useful ones, too.
Freelancers and one-person businesses have suddenly found themselves with a reliable partner to sense-check work, provide feedback, summarise lengthy content and write intelligently. And as word spreads that these interactions are every bit as clever as we’ve been told, uptake has spiraled.
As you might imagine, alongside this surge of interest comes a (not totally unwarranted) trepidation. It’s no longer just people in manual jobs that fear the influence of machines. Concerned copywriters, editors and journalists fear that their medium might be replaced by bots, and almost anyone with a primarily online career has sat up a little straighter at the news that AI might finally have a genuine seat at our table.
But how much reason do we have to fear? Is AI the death of human thinking, or simply the next wave of it?
Humans working alongside AI is no new thing. Anyone who’s ever used Google Translate has done so, to an extent. And, in the same way, Google Translate can only go so far—then comes the need for human intervention. ChatGPT may have raised the bar for everyday AI products but, really, it’s the same old story. AI still works best when combined with human thinking. Or - to flip the narrative - humans can amplify their skills hugely with the help of AI.
The examples above show just a fraction of what AI can do to aid our own thinking. Where before, AI may have given singular answers, this new iteration gives us dialogue. Thoughts. Conversation.
Nevertheless, what AI still can’t replicate is human connection. It may have grown to become eloquent, but it has no life experience or empathy. It does an amazing job at creating shortcuts for us and making our lives easier, but we still cannot trust its judgment as we do our fellow people. In this way, the future of work is still forged by human connection and understanding.
Though the topic of AI replacing human thinking has fueled countless Hollywood Blockbusters and banner headlines, we are still far from such a reality. And in a world where these products are becoming increasingly smart, you might argue that it’s more important than ever to make sure we don’t lose touch or become lazy with human thinking and creativity. In this lifetime, at least, it’s still our most valuable asset.