I often wonder why people assume any variation of AI, be it large language models, or otherwise, are out to kill jobs, kill innovation, or perhaps even kill us all! I’ve never looked at it that way. In my somewhat off-kilter mind, AI of these types is more akin to “Computer” on any given Star Trek series (Next Generation still reigning supreme in my book – thanks, Sir Patrick Stewart).
I’m a strategist by trade and passion, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted for an approach to a solution but just couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I’ve thought about it for a little while. In their conclusion, Ap Dijksterhuis and Teun Meurs note, “One could say that unconscious thought is more “liberal” than conscious thought and leads to the generation of items or ideas that are less obvious, less accessible and more creative. Upon being confronted with a task that requires a certain degree of creativity, it pays off to delegate the labor of thinking to the unconscious mind. “(“Where creativity resides: The generative power of unconscious thought“, Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 15, Issue 1, 2006, Pages 135-146, ISSN 1053-8100). And don’t we all rely on that from time to time?
So why entrust those less obvious, more creative solutions to AI over our own cognition? Simple – access to resources. Our minds only have in them what they have in them. That is, they are a collection of our own experiences, and the associated things we’ve learned from them. Strategy in particular requires us to call upon experiences and results to inform our decisions, plans, and reactions. See a snake, avoid snake, don’t get bit by snake – good strategy. But what if our experiences tell us snakes don’t bite? Our strategy is then only good until we encounter a bitey snake – then we have a new record to call upon. This is where I see AI coming into the strategy game in a major way. It’s almost as though one could inject the following phrase into every strategic dilemma: “considering everything in a vast dataset of knowledge, how might I…” It’s the Star Trek “Computer,” right? Okay, since I brought up TNG before, the same logic applies to Mr. Data (you’re welcome, Mr. Spiner). The solution, by the way, is to phaser blast any snakes for good measure.
In almost every one of those such situations, the crew wrestles with a problem, seeks advice from a vastly more informed source, and then makes a strategic decision based on that information. The process of doing this shortcuts the subconscious middleman and brings on a whole new source of consideration which may have otherwise been inaccessible. But whoa, wait a minute! We’ve had that with the internet since the late nineties, right? Need an answer, hit up Google, right? Not so fast. That’s the difference with AI – the ability to do more than just crank out millions of pages of “hits.” It’s making sense of the noise, adding context into the mix, and presenting the information in a way our slow conscious mind can process. It’s not cheating, it’s having a highly-qualified consultant who knows how to interpret and not just vomit out the results of a search algorithm. Where the epiphany occurs is when the consultant can be trusted. That’s a topic for another article.
In closing, I’m onboard for the AI revolution. Or maybe it’s just evolution for the moment. Either way, I’m happy to take a probably-pretty-solid solution to a problem for my consideration if it keeps me ahead of my competitors, adversaries, or teenagers. Where do you stand?