Despite all the global attention around ChatGPT, it's still an unfamiliar topic for many. There are numerous articles titled "Why 99% of People Are Using ChatGPT Wrong - Follow This Guide," but in reality, 99% of people aren't even aware of what it is.
This lack of understanding isn't unique to ChatGPT but is common with most new technologies. An interaction I had at a local coffee shop illustrates the potential confusion as AI evolves from being a hyped-up concept to an integral part of our everyday lives.
Just the other night, I overheard a gentleman behind me on a FaceTime call mentioning "ChatGPT". Once he ended his call, I asked him what he knew about it. "My friend was telling me all about it," he replied, "Before that call, I had no idea what it was. Is it any good?"
Interestingly, this man was a business mentor and he had only just heard about ChatGPT in May 2023, six months post its release. As the famed writer, William Gibson, once noted, "The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed."
When he asked, "Is it any good?" I replied, "It's going to change humanity." His initial shock quickly turned into scepticism.
My statement was indeed bold, but I genuinely believe in the transformative potential of AI. AI isn't new, having been around in some form since the 1950s. However, 2022 marked a pivotal moment in its evolution, driven by technological breakthroughs (LLMs became cool), economic uncertainty (people searched how to accomplish more, businesses wanted to do more with less), and the web3 hype cycle ended (lots of well funded technical teams needed to point in a new non-NFT direction).
I continued conversing with this gentleman for another 15 minutes, my ice cream melting away. I shared some use-cases for ChatGPT and discussed the broader implications of AI. He wondered, "Could it tell me which flights are available between two cities?"
I say “no”, he looks defeated.
"but you could simply tell it you want to go on holiday. It would then inquire about your preferred time of year, weather, and budget, much like a 1990s travel agent but with real-time access to the knowledge of the internet."
His eyes widened as I elaborated, "It could even understand your preferences, your favoured hotel brands, your loyalty schemes, and the type of room you prefer. And if the hotel isn't on a service like Booking.com, it could call the hotel directly, possibly in your voice, ask questions, and make reservations for activities."
The man remained silent as I continued, "Imagine having seen a beautiful vista on Instagram. You could take a screenshot, show it to ChatGPT and ask it to find a similar place for you to visit in India when you're next there."
Despite sounding futuristic, all the elements needed for this are already available today. The key challenge lies in access, particularly to data such as flight prices and hotel availability. As AI continues to progress, we're on the cusp of witnessing daily groundbreaking innovations that have the potential to transform countless jobs worldwide.
However, it's important to remember that, for now, only a small fraction of the population are even aware of these possibilities.
This is another iPhone moment...