ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. Part 1: A personal experience. April 3, 2024
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. Part 1: A personal experience.

One of my grandmothers was born the same year Arthur Conan Doyle published “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”. My daughter was born the same year ChatGPT appeared. From 1892 to 2022 a few years have passed. It is curious to have shared life with people from three different centuries.

I have spoken to soldiers who fought in the Second World War, in the Spanish Civil War and in the Balkan War, I have seen the Berlin Wall fall, I have seen Hong Kong “return” to China, I was born before Google, I have seen the birth of social networks and I have stayed at home because of COVID. In short, I have used too many times the expression: “this changes everything and nothing will ever be the same again”.

And then came artificial intelligence.

Uncertainty should be familiar, yet it terrifies us. When I talk to friends about the COVID pandemic, they always express themselves in terms such as tiredness, sadness, fear, and the word uncertainty rarely comes up (when it does, it lasts very little time in the conversation). 

How can this be? We spent months without really knowing what was happening, taking measures that we didn’t know if they were effective, we didn’t know when it was going to end, we didn’t even know if it was going to end. We were plunged into uncertainty for a long time, but we don’t want to remember that.

Although it is not the same thing, Artificial Intelligence has also brought us a good dose of uncertainty. Some people are throwing it a binge-welcome party, while others are looking for a cave in some remote place where they can wait for the apocalypse. Many other people prefer not to talk about it because “they don’t know where we are going to end up”.

Others of us have become aware of the importance of this advance, but we take slow steps, we hesitate, we grope our way forward and we recognise that our last gamble was a mistake or we discover unexpected successes as we learn daily. With this point of view, we will publish a series of articles in which we do not intend to set an opinion, but to share an experience. At Atland we want to recover the original spirit of the internet when sharing was a way of going together in pursuit of knowledge because we knew that we were facing something very big that we could not take on alone.

We go step by step

In addition to uncertainty, there is another element that is making it difficult to know what the current state of Artificial Intelligence is: it is going too fast and it is not easy to understand. 

One of the first things we need to be clear about is that we have been using artificial intelligence for a long time. It’s in translation tools, proofreaders or car navigators. So why this “revolution”?

It is that we no longer use devices and programmes with artificial intelligence, but that we interact directly with it and can use it in a personalised way. 

This is no small matter. The fact that the public has its hands on something means a greater market share and provokes a race to position itself in front of that potential customer, which is none other than Homo sapiens, each one of us to a greater or lesser extent. 

The gates of the circus have been opened and everyone is running to position themselves in the ring of miracles, in the ring of the apocalypse, in the ring of profits or in the one that has room left (there is room for everyone). That is why it has become a stressful exercise to try to keep up with the latest tools and updates in the sector.

Searching for quality information is neither easy nor quick, and even less so if we are looking for information that shares its sources so that we can at least know where its conclusions are drawn from. In this futuristic race, even the most reputable media have made mistakes and given voice to opportunistic gurus and preachers of the apocalypse. The same people who talked about COVID, Icelandic volcanoes, the war in Ukraine and Gaza are now explaining Artificial Intelligence with arguments that seem to be taken from ChatGPT with a bad prompt.

All this thanks to the democratisation of the simplest part of Artificial Intelligence. The most powerful part is still under development or only accessible to a few.

My personal experience

One of the first things I did when I saw the growth of Artificial Intelligence was to look for ways in which it could make my life easier. I am a freelance professional working from a small town in the north of Spain, very close to where I was born. The world out there is competitive and ruthless for someone like me. Anything that helps me on my way is welcome, be it a pair of good boots, a helping hand or a technological revolution.

In my job there are many routine processes that are time-consuming and do not add value, but take up a large part of my working day. Artificial Intelligence affects many of these processes by making them simple or taking them over completely.  Little by little I was incorporating tools until I could work as if I had someone hired. Suddenly I became a professional with more value and greater production capacity.

I took advantage of the situation to offer new services to my clients or improve the ones we had already agreed on. This is not bad considering that the applications I use (all in their paid version) have a very small capacity compared to what is being used and researched today in medicine, pharmacy or logistics.

That’s a good thing… or maybe not.

In short, what I offer as a novelty will be just another skill, not a competitive advantage. Much of what I do and what I do for a living will be done in a matter of seconds with software that costs €20 a month. 

Then my advantage will disappear.

Acquiring new skills and reinforcing those that give me value will be the strategy that allows me to continue working in the same place where I write this surrounded by birds, deer, wolves and bears. I can afford it and I have experienced disappointments before.

The emergence of the internet left me glued to my chair, web 2.0 and social networks made me jump for joy and my own failures as well as reading Evgeny Morozov made me start to look at the “technological miracle” with more distance.I went from thinking that social networks were an open and horizontal space to seeing how they became new passive entertainment channels and polarised spaces where conversation was impossible.

Now we know that only big companies can afford to pay a Community Manager and the analytical results of most websites are not useful to draw any conclusions. Small and medium sized projects that entered digital as the space of opportunity have run into almost the same difficulties as always but paying for an SEO strategy that is not going to work.

But tomorrow morning.

My wife’s great-grandfather made his living transporting goods in a wooden cart pulled by oxen (the last cart he had is at home). My wife’s cousin is a lorry driver and makes trips all over Europe. They both do the same, but technology changes everything. I have gained productivity in just over a year, instead of needing three generations.

Tomorrow I will turn on my computer and get to work before the sun rises and after coffee. The first thing I will do is open several programs, all of them with Artificial Intelligence and it is possible (depending on when you read this) that I will have to open some of the AI applications I have contracted to: generate text, edit photos, edit audio and transcribe it. I will be able to select short videos based on keywords, improve the quality of images and sound individually for each participant of a podcast, recycle text and write summaries and minutes. It’s April, we’ll see what I’m able to do before the end of the year.

Now my work routine is flowing, but it hasn’t worked out that way the first time. The most routine tasks become almost invisible, we do them automatically and the last thing we want to do is think about them. Inertia is a powerful force and finding the time to stop and think about the more stable parts of our work is an obstacle course that we organise for ourselves: I don’t have time now, I wish I could get on with it, …. This is known as repetition bias, which tells us that if we have been doing something in the same way for a long time and it works, it is almost better not to change it. It is actually a way of hiding resistance to change because we do not even consider the possibility of improving it. 

It happens whenever there is an innovation. In fact, there are people who still haven’t digitised their work when today it is more expensive to stay in that position than to make the leap to digital. With Artificial Intelligence, the question takes on a more fanciful aspect as it is surrounded by an aura of autonomy, as if it were a force capable of displacing us and detracting from the importance and capacity of humans.

Too much science fiction.

Everything I do with Artificial Intelligence is done by me, let me explain. I am the one who tells the software what to do and how, I am the one who accepts or rejects the results. As the days go by, I manage the tools better and with each update the tools get better. What doesn’t change is that I have the last word.

Write a comment
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *