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AI and machine learning October 23, 2023

How to stay afloat in the AI surge

By Carolin Puppel
Life buoy in blue swimming pool.
In the tranquility of summer, many hoped the roaring tide of AI’s hype might ebb. Yet, as autumn approaches, we’re facing a relentless surge of AI advancements as daunting as before.

With a possible launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT 5.0 on the horizon and a virtual tsunami of AI headlines from giants like Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Anthropic, it feels like we’re caught in a rip current of AI innovation and really struggling to keep our head above water.

This new reality is stark. AI isn’t just a fleeting trend – AI is becoming more and more intertwined with our workflows. This rapid evolution offers immense technological benefits but has also introduced considerable challenges, including psychological. The media has even coined a term for it: “AI anxiety.” My own initial experiences with AI tools were filled with frustration – the promise of seamless integration and innovation marred by errors and inefficiencies.

But therein lies a lesson: perseverance. As the AI landscape evolves, so must we. Human adaptability is our greatest asset in mastering it.

So, let’s refine our strategies to fully tap into the potential of this new superpower.

Stay calm, stay observant

Before you hit the panic button, take a moment to assess the AI landscape. It’s too early to predict which tools will reign supreme. The tech giants are deep in competition, each vying for dominance in the AI sector. A clearer landscape, distinguished by platforms with extensive user bases and standout features, will likely emerge in the next 18–24 months. It’s thus crucial to stay informed but not impulsively embrace every new development. While some applications shine brightly today, they might just be fleeting sparks.

Engage and experiment

While caution is advised, standing on the AI sidelines isn’t the solution. To stay relevant, you must immerse yourself in the AI world, familiarizing yourself and regularly practicing with AI tools. In an age that champions “lifelong learning,” those who didn’t grow up in the digital era must develop their proficiency in AI applications. While mastering Python isn’t a prerequisite, honing your skills with AI platforms certainly is. Dedicate daily moments, say 15–30 minutes, to explore and practice with an AI tool. Starting can be daunting, and the results may not match your expectations. However, consistent practice and curiosity pave the way for success. Poor outcomes often result from imprecise inputs, even from seasoned users. But with time, your proficiency will flourish. Ignoring AI’s potential is no small risk. While AI itself may not replace you, someone adept at leveraging AI just might.

Augment, don’t displace your intelligence

Which of your tasks could benefit from AI assistance? Many activities are ripe for AI optimization – whether in analyzing datasets for patterns or insights, efficiently sorting and categorizing data, summarizing or extracting insights from documents, or using an LLM as a creative spark for an entirely new campaign or business plan. Such self-awareness of how you can optimize with AI not only bolsters productivity, it also cultivates an innovative and adaptable mindset.

Encouraging employees to explore AI can create real value in your company’s processes and solutions. But while you may be tempted to simply let AI take the wheel, don’t. Relying entirely on AI diminishes the gains human cognition brings to the table. Our capabilities for critical thinking, nuanced judgment, and wisdom derived from lived experience are attributes that no AI can genuinely emulate. The output generated by AI may be extremely fast and sometimes surprisingly good. But it takes a critical human mind to fine-tune, proof, and adjust the result for real added value. When we harness AI as augmented intelligence, it acts as a force multiplier for our cognitive capacities, rather than a substitute.

Be transparent, ethical, and reliable

In the AI domain, ethics aren't optional, they are essential. Grounding AI explorations in a robust, transparent, and ethical framework is paramount for organizations and individual users. For example, setting clear protocols for AI usage and safeguarding data can prevent breaches of confidential information. Understanding and articulating the role of Generative AI in creative or professional work can ensure integrity and originality. Discerning between human-crafted and AI-aided content can heighten awareness about the steps needed to validate and verify output, especially when it influences critical decision-making. While we may increasingly rely on AI for convenience, embracing innovation within an ethical framework charts a course of sustainable, responsible growth.

Encourage and educate

Historically, senior management, with their years of experience, held the reins. Today, younger digital natives, with their seemingly inherent tech prowess, are often leading the charge. This doesn’t diminish the value of seasoned professionals, but rather underscores a call to action. Acquiring digital skills can bridge the knowledge gap, ensuring that hard-won experience and technological know-how go hand in hand.

Managers and team leaders should actively champion the exploration and adoption of AI within their teams. By encouraging members to brainstorm AI-driven solutions, experiment with AI tools, or even just share their AI-related experiences, a culture of collaborative learning can be fostered. Thankfully, in this era of digital abundance, there’s a wealth of content available – from online courses to webinars and tutorials, many freely accessible. Embracing these resources and fostering an environment of mutual support and education can unlock AI’s best potential – one in which the company and employees, regardless of seniority, can reap the rewards.

The AI tide isn’t receding anytime soon. Instead of being overwhelmed, let’s embrace it, adapt, and evolve. After all, in the confluence of human intuition and artificial intelligence lies the future of innovation. And as we continue our journey through these digital waters, ask: Are you simply drifting, or are you navigating your course?


This article was originally published by Forbes on September 12, 2023, and republished with permission. 

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