Posted on August 13, 2023  
by Noel Guilford

I have spent the last couple of weeks learning more about generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) including attending a couple of online courses. Following a couple of blogs on the subject I’ve received a number of questions about GenAI.

Here are some of the questions and how I have answered them:

Why have I focused on ChatGPT at the expense of other applications?

ChatGTP has become the most popular and used GenAI application since its launch in November 2022, but it’s now only one of many thousands. It is still, in my opinion, the best large language model (LLM), although how long it will remain so is anyone’s guess. You can never write off Google and Apple.

Simply put, I decided to go deep in my understanding of one LLM before taking on research into other applications. The introduction of plugins, and in particular code interpreter which enables me to carry out financial data analysis, has been a particular benefit of this focus.

Why do GenAI applications sometimes get it wrong, known as hallucination?

It is important to remember that most Gen AI applications are extremely powerful but at the same time incredibly stupid. They are programmed to interrogate a vast database of information to do just one thing: suggest the most likely next word. They will continue searching until they find such a word even if having failed to find the most likely what they come up with is extremely unlikely.

Is GenAI an opportunity or a threat?

Scaremongers and conspiracy theorists have delighted in telling us that AI will take over our jobs, make us all redundant, take over the world and maybe even extinguish the human race. Well maybe.

On the other hand it could solve the problem of global warming, save lives, develop wonder drugs and advance human knowledge and understanding.

At a business level, will it replace business functions such as bookkeeping, copywriting, customer service, marketing, selling and a host of others?

Here is what I know as a fact. It isn’t competition from AI per se that will destroy businesses. It is the threat from your competitors who embrace AI in their businesses and become more efficient, adept at customer service, quick to develop and introduce new products and services, and willing and able to invest in talented people and training that will overtake the AI laggards.

We must also remember that whilst generative AI has enabled some extraordinary advances, it is but a baby step in comparison to the giant leap that Quantum Computing will bring.

Quantum will be with us at some point, and things we can’t even anticipate will hit us. How do you prepare for that? How do you create a culture or mindset or organisation that knows there will be unexpected waves of technology which we’ll have to determine if they’re relevant to us or not.

Should I invest in learning about generative AI?

Absolutely. We all need to do lots of learning and that learning has to be continuous. The idea is not that we all want to become AI engineers or data scientists or get a Ph.D., but as business owners, this is now a sine qua non.

The way I think about this is that it is similar to taking a business degree or studying for an MBA; those courses have a first year required curriculum. However many subjects there are, one of them is always accounting.

I believe that accounting is very important, but most business graduates, quite rightly, don’t want to be accountants. But they do need to learn accounting because that’s the language of business. It’s the way in which value is kept track of, performance improvements are made and businesses thrive. You don’t take the accounting course to become accountant, but you need to understand accounting so you can be a successful business owner.

It’s the same now with digital technologies, and artificial intelligence. We need to understand AI, not because we’re going to become AI engineers or AI scientists, but because that is now going to be critical for us to understand how business works.

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Noel Guilford

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