The rise of overnight AI experts: opportunities & pitfalls
  • 30 Mar 2024
  • 9 Minutes to read
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The rise of overnight AI experts: opportunities & pitfalls

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Thank you to Kem-Laurin Lubin, for sharing her insight and stories in our knowledge base.

Click here to read on Medium.

Expertise in excess: the double-edged sword of rapid AI proliferation

“The con man’s most important asset is his victim’s belief that he is a good man.” — George C. Scott

There’s a trend I’ve become acutely aware of, reminiscent of a time before the digital renaissance turned every second person into a proclaimed UX guru. Not long after, as societal tides turned, a wave of overnight DEI experts flooded our feeds, riding the crest of the Black Lives Matter movement. And now, we’re witnessing the dawn of a new era where, seemingly, everyone is an AI savant. But let’s not be fooled by this masquerade of instant mastery. The landscape is becoming crowded with ‘snake oil AI salespeople,’ characters as colorful as they are cunning, who, after a brief romance with AI buzzwords, position themselves as architects of the future. Their pitch is as glossy as a freshly printed brochure, promising revolutionary solutions while glossing over the gritty and nuanced complexities of AI technology.

These modern-day alchemists, with their suits as sharp as their sales pitches, transform rudimentary knowledge into golden opportunities, selling their wares in the bustling market of innovation. They blend a sprinkle of machine learning, a dash of neural networks, and a generous helping of technical jargon, concocting a compelling yet questionable brew of expertise.

Just as the elixirs of old promised miraculous cures, these modern-day charlatans offer quick fixes and one-size-fits-all solutions in AI, leading to a cluttered landscape where genuine expertise is hard to discern from the smoke and mirrors of opportunism.

Inthe space of AI application, myriad considerations unfolds, touching on areas like policy, governance, morality, privacy, bias, equity, design, and risk, among others. Let me briefly unpack what I mean in this quick list and the AI considerations, in quick form.

Crafting policy for AI involves a nuanced approach that must both propel technological progress and uphold ethical standards, setting a stage where innovation thrives within a responsible framework.

Governance in AI is about establishing clear lines of accountability and ensuring that AI systems operate transparently and ethically, aligning with societal norms and values.

The moral dimension of AI prompts a deep reflection on how technology impacts human decision-making and societal norms, urging a careful balance between technological advancement and ethical integrity.

Privacy issues are paramount, as the capacity of AI to analyze and store personal data necessitates stringent safeguards to protect individual rights and prevent misuse.

Addressing bias in AI systems is critical to avoid reinforcing existing social inequities, requiring ongoing efforts to ensure fairness and impartiality.

Equity in AI emphasizes the need for broad access to this technology, ensuring that its benefits are shared across all strata of society and do not exacerbate social divides.

In design, AI must be user-centric, crafted to meet real human needs and adaptable to diverse social and cultural contexts. Moreover, understanding and mitigating the risks associated with AI use is essential to prevent unintended consequences that could arise from its deployment.

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These facets represent just a snapshot of the complex landscape navigated in the application of AI, where each element interplays with the others, underscoring the multifaceted challenges and opportunities this technology presents. Yet many companies, in the midst of a hiring frenzy, simply do not get it, nor do they understand the potential risk impact for their business, as it implicates all these aspects factors.

AI impact stories

AsI reflect on this moment, I can’t help but recall the amusing recent incident involving a poorly implemented chatbot that unwittingly sold a car for a mere $1. It prompts a deeper consideration: what other crucial decisions have we entrusted to AI? Undoubtedly, tales of such encounters will continue to unfold, revealing the evolving landscape of human-machine interaction.

Credit: Chris Bakke (Twitter)

Even more alarming and hitting close to home was an advertisement that employed a deepfake of our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, endorsing a financial “robot trader.” This deceptive ad ensnared numerous potential investors, including acquaintances of mine, who believed that if the scheme was endorsed by Trudeau, it must be credible. My best friend’s parents were fortunate to lose only $400, but others were not so lucky, suffering losses in the thousands. The video series, which also featured manipulated appearances by Elon Musk and other public figures, has since been taken down from YouTube, highlighting the growing concern over the misuse of deepfake technology in manipulating public opinion and defrauding individuals.

Google, the parent company of the video-sharing and social media platform, confirmed that that it has also suspended the advertiser accounts linked to these fraudulent schemes.

And this is not an isolated deep fake news event. Amid discussions on the ethical implications of deliberate deepfake messages involving the Princess of Wales, particularly considering her current health status, a video statement was released last week where she disclosed her cancer diagnosis. Some users on social media expressed remorse for engaging in unfounded speculation regarding her extended absence from the public eye. However, others swiftly pivoted to a fresh conspiracy theory: suggesting that the video was generated using AI, with some AI experts agreeing to this assessment.

credit: Princess Catherine cancer video — © Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images

Deepfakes, lifelike but synthetic images, audio, and videos generated using AI are at the heart of these issue. Recent strides in the technology have rendered them increasingly difficult to differentiate from content created by humans, another consideration when we all now question — What is real? What is truth?

And who could forget — The strikes in Hollywood, where writers and actors protested, serving as a pivotal reminder of the significant impact generative AI can have on creative industries. These professionals took to the picket lines to voice their concerns over job security, fair compensation, and the ethical use of AI in content creation. Their actions highlighted the growing tensions between technological advancement and the preservation of traditional artistic roles, underscoring the need for a balanced approach that respects both innovation and the rights of creators.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Inthe whirlwind that we call technological advancement, AI has been a game-changer in democratizing knowledge and skill acquisition. AI-powered tools have enabled individuals to rapidly gain expertise in various domains, creating a new breed of ‘overnight experts.’ While this phenomenon is a marvel of modern technology, it brings to light significant concerns regarding the depth and authenticity of such swiftly acquired expertise.

The emergence of overnight experts

The advent of AI-driven platforms has made it possible for individuals to access vast repositories of information instantaneously. From mastering new programming languages to understanding complex financial markets, AI has seemingly compressed the learning curve that traditionally spanned years into mere days or weeks. There are many other anecdotes of people who have utilized AI to quickly excel in new fields, highlighting the transformative power of AI in learning and skill development. But what does that mean for our collective futures contending with what is real and what isn’t? Who are the bad actors? Who are the good? The many outcomes are yet unknown.

Benefits of AI-driven expertise

The democratization of learning through AI is undeniably beneficial, breaking down barriers that once made education and skill acquisition the exclusive domain of the privileged few. This rapid learning process fosters innovation and entrepreneurship, as individuals are now equipped to apply their newfound skills in real-world scenarios promptly. The potential for societal advancement is immense, with AI acting as a catalyst for widespread intellectual and professional growth.

However, the rapid acquisition of knowledge via AI raises questions about the depth and durability of this learning. Is an individual who becomes an ‘expert’ overnight through AI assistance truly mastering the subject, or merely scratching the surface? The distinction between acquiring information and achieving a deep, nuanced understanding is critical, especially in fields where critical thinking and problem-solving are paramount.

The emergence of overnight experts, facilitated by advanced AI technologies, is reshaping the landscape of professional standards, particularly in fields where deep knowledge and experience are paramount, like healthcare, law, and engineering. This trend challenges the traditional norms of expertise and credentialing, raising concerns about the dilution of professional standards and the potential risks to public welfare.

As AI-assisted individuals claim expertise after brief learning periods, the integrity of professions built on years of rigorous education and hands-on experience is at stake. The dangers are myriad but we are more privy to the impact of what is the Truth for consumers of technology? What and who is real, to be more exact?

The risk of misinformation & overconfidence

A significant danger of this trend is the potential for overconfidence and the spread of misinformation. Individuals who gain quick expertise might overestimate their understanding and capabilities, leading to mistakes and the propagation of incorrect information. Highlighting real-world incidents where inadequate depth of knowledge led to critical errors could underscore the importance of thorough, rigorous learning processes.

AI’s capacity to create overnight experts is both awe-inspiring and cautionary. While it presents unparalleled opportunities for learning and development, it is imperative to recognize the limitations and potential pitfalls of this accelerated path to expertise. True expertise involves a deep, integrative understanding of a subject, developed through critical analysis and sustained engagement. As we embrace the possibilities opened by AI, a balanced approach that values both speed and depth of learning is essential to ensure that the pursuit of rapid expertise does not come at the expense of thoroughness and accuracy in our knowledge and professional practices.

This dual-edged nature of AI’s ability to forge instant experts calls for a prudent and measured approach. It is vital to strike a balance that honors the swift acquisition of knowledge without undermining the comprehensive and nuanced understanding that defines true expertise. In navigating the rapid advancements in AI, we must prioritize a holistic learning process, ensuring that the acceleration in acquiring expertise is complemented by a steadfast commitment to depth, critical thinking, and ethical practice.

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About me: Hello, my name is Kem-Laurin, and I am one half of the co-founding team of Human Tech Futures. At Human Tech Futures, we’re passionate about helping our clients navigate the future with confidence! Innovation and transformation are at the core of what we do, and we believe in taking a human-focused approach every step of the way.

We understand that the future can be uncertain and challenging, which is why we offer a range of engagement packages tailored to meet the unique needs of both individuals and organizations. Whether you’re an individual looking to embrace change, a business seeking to stay ahead of the curve, or an organization eager to shape a better future, we’ve got you covered.

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