The future of our relationship with generative AI. Where is the journey going?

Two perspectives with consequences and recommendations for action

AI that tries to understand us, always has an open ear for us and talks to us. With images, texts and videos. Generative AI. An AI that generates content and is creative and intelligent in the process. Works?

The first perspective, with an AI to fall in love with.

How intelligent is generative AI? Is it intelligent at all? If not, will it ever be?

These are interesting questions for researchers. Mixed with efforts to clearly define and delimit life, consciousness and intelligence. What? Life, consciousness and intelligence? Things that supposedly define us, but we don’t know exactly what they are? Unbelievable. Still is. Even for research.

So it’s exciting to see how quickly we reach our limits. Even with things that seem to define us. Who is supposed to have the right answers to the initial questions? Is it even important for the vast majority? Are clear answers to these questions decisive for further developments?

I dare to doubt this. Because perception determines our reality. A reality that has a direct impact. On the way in which generative AI is used, accepted and spread. Many people already perceive ChatGPT and co. as intelligent and trust their judgement. In some areas more than their human counterparts. Even in medicine. And it is more than conceivable that at some point the first people will fall in love with an AI application and its hardware.

Why is that?

Being intelligent and being perceived as intelligent are two different things. It is important to understand how communication between people really works. It is not a transfer of information, not a transfer of data. We humans are not connected in that way. No cable, no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. We are highly individual. All with different education, prior knowledge and sensitivities. Unrivalled in complexity.

If you want to be recognised as an expert in the future, you have to take this into account. They do not impart knowledge, but at best trigger the right impulses in their counterparts. So that the recipient can generate knowledge on their own. Depending on the context. The more impulses are triggered, the more intelligently you are perceived by them.

And generative AI can apparently already do this very well. At least on non-specialist topics in relation to the person asking the question. And it’s getting better and better. Adapts more individually to the other person. Memorises more and more context and slips into different, desired roles. The perception of a designer with AI-generated images or a copywriter with texts, for example, is completely different. Here, it is sufficient at best as support or as a sparring partner. The impulses are not yet sufficient for AI to be perceived as intelligent.

In a future where generative AI is perceived as sensitive, empathetic and trustworthy, it is all the more important to strengthen our communication skills. As professionals, we need to adapt to our counterparts in the best possible way, speak their language and trigger many impulses in them. After all, this is what creates trust and opens the door to offering further practical added value.

The second perspective, with an AI to bore you

Incredible – natural – boring. The perceptual journey of new technologies and innovations. Why should it be any different this time?

The internet was the liberation of human knowledge, accessible to all. The change equalled the printing press. Then came Google, and in its day it already knew everything. Often put on a par with the oracle from Greek mythology.

A lot has changed. Right down to the way we live, love and hate. But many things are no longer exciting. The internet has long been taken for granted, the smartphone with all its apps is increasingly perceived as annoying and the addiction to social media is driving more and more people to detox digitally.

Has there been any real progress? Human progress? As a whole, as a civilisation? Are there fewer wars, poverty and exploitation? Less hatred and violence? More access to quality education and clean water and energy? Is the environment recovering and has the extinction of biodiversity been halted? Yes. It is very sobering when everyone answers the questions for themselves.

Why is that?

Technical progress and human progress are two different things. One does not require the other. We only have new opportunities to create added value. What these look like and how they are organised is entirely up to us.

Generative AI has not changed this either. The theft of intellectual property is looming, the energy consumption of the necessary computing power is anything but sustainable and the dependency on chip production and the associated resources is increasing immensely. Not to mention the growing influence of a few who are using this supremacy to further expand it in the future. Everything remains the same, but in a new guise. Only the balance of power is changing worldwide. So much so that this is often referred to as a turning point.

From this perspective, it doesn’t sound all that progressive. Because the core has remained unchanged. The orientation of the business models. They are usually designed according to the old, prevailing understanding. To put it bluntly, this means maximising profit, assuming unlimited resources and largely disregarding social and ecological losses.

At the same time, more and more people’s expectations and understanding of future economic activity are changing. A great opportunity to reorient and reposition ourselves at an early stage? With the help of generative AI?

Definitely yes. And this is possible at any time, regardless of the state of technical developments. The UN’s 17 global sustainability goals provide good orientation. Goals that anyone who decides to reorganise their business or set up a new one can use as a guide. Suitably positioned, future-proof and innovative, with a new narrative for business models.

Angefangen im Bergbau, erlebte er hautnah, wie eine ganze Branche in Deutschland ausstarb. Seitdem lebt er mit dem festen Vorsatz, die Zukunft aktiv mitzugestalten. Heute begleitet er im Auftrag der Ministerien Forschungsprojekte als wissenschaftlicher Referent beim DLR Projektträger mit dem Themenschwerpunkt KI.

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