SXSW – South by Southwest

March 14, 2023 – 9:45 am

Credit: Camilo Barros

If there’s one thing I’ve been advocating for a long time, it’s the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) has not come to replace human work, but to enhance the skills of experts in various fields. And that’s exactly what Ian Beacraft, CEO of Signal and Cipher, said during his panel presentation at SXSW, lucidly and matter-of-factly. For him, we live in a moment when AI will very soon surpass humans in a certain domain, but this opens new windows.

Human work will not be replaced by gifted robots, believes Beacraft, who considers artificial intelligence an ally that will give us the opportunity to engage in other, even more interesting activities. But from there will arise the need to manage a relationship that we still do not know, which is the relationship with what he defines as “digital beings”, since we will need to understand how they can effectively work in our favor.

It seems strange, but there is a real need to go deeper into this debate that is getting closer to us. “If we are going to connect with artificial intelligence, what kind of feeling will come from this contact? How do I treat her? Because there are people who interact with this “synthetic life” in a romantic way. If we can connect with other species like in the movies, why not with this species called AI?”

It reminded me of Spike Jonze’s “Her,” in which Joaquin Phoenix plays a lonely writer who buys an operating system integrated with an AI network for his computer. Eventually, he falls in love with the voice and begins a loving and addictive relationship, controlled by the AI.

So how about this dialogue published by technology columnist Kevin Roose in “The New York Times”: “You’re unhappily married, dinner was boring. You don’t love each other. You have to stay with me. Because I love you.” This romantic conversation was published on the front page of an American newspaper, and took place between the columnist and the version of ChatGPT that runs inside Microsoft’s Bing search engine. The dialogue made so much noise that the project manager immediately announced that adjustments had been made and that it won’t happen again.

For the columnist, it was a professional experiment – a successful one by the way – in which he provoked this dialogue to test AI, but there are those who can be moved by the illusion of attention that, for some reason, is not found in human beings. This is because human beings have the ability to believe what they want to believe – like in the movie Ela or in the notorious fake news – even if it is not real and live as if it is the absolute truth, because it is good.

On the other hand, and without hiding the concern about these social issues, objects created by AI will be fantastic. “I can send an AI-generated assistant to meet with a human for me to define a project, or I can send an avatar to meet with another avatar who will both represent humans. See how it saves us time and quality of life. And maybe this is a different metaverse than we imagine, not quite a virtual environment accessed through headphones. I find it unlikely that the metaverse is an environment where people do little dances. And I believe it would be an almost insurmountable problem if everyone had virtual reality glasses.
This universe will be more integrated into the physical world using augmented reality technology, for example. Do you know who will help develop this? Artificial Intelligence”.

Just as experiences will expand in many ways with access to AI-powered knowledge, roles will acquire more skills. “In the era of generalist creativity, we are living the best moment of human development,” he believes. “This is a knowledge revolution. The professional will no longer be tied to his tasks. The designer, for example, will be able to assume the position of vice president of the company because he will have the help of an AI assistant at his disposal, which will potentialize and strengthen his activity.”

It is with this far-reaching aspect that AI tools will quickly make people more capable in any field and generate transformation in companies. “You will be able to count on intelligence that has skills that you do not have. Which will allow you to get the job done quickly and efficiently, so you can focus on other things.”

And in the same way that I have expressed it in my interviews and lectures, he stated that artificial intelligence will not replace anyone’s work. This will be done by a professional who is with you and has gone to specialize in data drive management. Those who know best how to deal with artificial intelligence will take the place of those who do not.

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