Relax, AI Will Probably Not Be the End of Us

It’s all just hype, says Gartner.

The end of civilization as we know it, a common theme in sci fi, found a villain in AI.
But AI, at least in its latest form, ChatGPT, a sensational chatty large
language model, is only the hype common to potentially game changing emerging
techologies, assures Gartner. 

But ingrained is the threat of AI, such as in his scene from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines:

 Skynet has become self-aware. In one hour, it will launch a massive nuclear attack on its enemies.

What enemies?

JOHN CONNER (future leader of the resistance against the machines)
 Humans. Us.

The point at which AI becomes smarter than its creators—and for the sake of the story, turn against them—was dubbed The Singularity by Raymond Kurzweil in his 2005 book “The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.” The idea of a human creation turning on humans goes back almost two centuries earlier when Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” published in 1818.

That Great Britain was in the throes of the Industrial Revolution, when men in the textile mills were being replaced by machines, was certainly no coincidence.

Let’s All Calm Down

Image: Gartner.

Image: Gartner.

Gartner has placed generative AI, the technology at the heart of ChatGPT and image generators, at the top of its Hype Cycle.

The vaunted industry consultancy uses the Hype Cycle to track potentially game-changing technologies, which almost invariably show this pattern: a feverish pitch of excitement (fueled by media starved for the next big thing), followed by a precipitous loss of interest (by a now-skeptical public), and then a slow deliberate pickup of the technology by the industries that finally find a use for it.

The media may be blamed for causing the fever. Consider this recent headline by Business Insider as a case in point: AI Will Radically Reshape Job Market, Global Economy, Employee Productivity. But the fever has spread to big tech. Everyone wants in on the AI action and will go to any lengths to obtain it. It was Netflix that offered up to $900,000 a year for someone to land a product manager role for its Machine Learning Platform.

“The popularity of many new AI techniques will have a profound impact on business and society,” said Arun Chandrasekaran, distinguished VP analyst at Gartner. “The massive pretraining and scale of AI foundation models, viral adoption of conversational agents [chatbots) and the proliferation of generative AI [that which can generate content, like text (ChatGPT) and images (like DALL-e)] are heralding a new wave of workforce productivity and machine creativity.”

“While all eyes are on AI right now, CIOs and CTOs must also turn their attention to other emerging technologies with transformational potential,” said Melissa Davis, VP analyst at Gartner.

That was Gartner hoping to bring down a fever so the patient can recover. The patient in this case:
an executive desperate to do something—anything—so they won’t be left behind.

In a Gartner poll of over 2,500 executives, Gartner found 45 percent had been
having fever dreams based on ChatGPT and will increase AI investment. Seventy percent said their companies were looking into it and
nineteen percent said plans to use AI were already in progress.

It might be a good time to refocus on other emerging AI technologies, Gartner seems to be warning. The emerging technologies that Gartner has identified as ones to keep an eye on are AI simulation, causal AI, federated machine learning, graph data science, neuro-symbolic AI and reinforcement learning and DevX (developer experience). And although the new puppies are the ones that get the most attention, the old dogs (the cloud, security and privacy) can still learn some new tricks.