Business Intelligence

The future of Generative Ai is in automation

Broad proclamations about Ai changing the world are doing nothing to help people understand how they should be using it. In the absence of specific...

The internet is awash with predictions that generative Ai is going to "change everything". Here's an example:

“Generative AI has the potential to change the world in ways that we can’t even imagine.”

— Bill Gates, Microsoft Co-Founder

Ok, sure. But broad proclamations about Ai are doing nothing to clarify how Ai will change the things. In the absence of specific direction, people are doing their best to utilize generative Ai in a manual way. This means changing or augmenting the way we search for answers, with ChatGPT becoming an alternative to the ubiquitous Google search. 

“Is it really, really valuable, so valuable that I talk to ChatGPT every single day? Yes.”

— Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO, Coursera

This alternative search approach to find answers is still nascent. People are still much more likely to say, "I'm going to Google that," than to say, "I'm going to ChatGPT it". But generative AI is making it's way into our day-to-day work activities.

What are people using Generative Ai for?

Based on the most recent statistics, the ChatGPT website is presently attracting a staggering 1.7 billion visitors each month and reached 1 million users in 5 days. To put this into context, it took Netflix approximately 3.5 years to achieve the same milestone. Seen visually, the adoption of new technology is clearly an increasingly rapid trend, but even within this space, generative Ai is a clear outlier:

time to reach 1 million users


So what are people doing with generative Ai? According to ChatGPT itself, people are using it directly in the following ways:

  • Conversation and Entertainment: Many users interact with ChatGPT simply for conversation and entertainment.
  • Information and Answers: Users often ask questions about history, science, technology, current events, and more.
  • Writing Assistance: Writers, bloggers, students, and professionals use ChatGPT for writing assistance (or for wholesale writing).
  • Language Learning: Language learners practice their skills by engaging in conversations online.
  • Therapeutic Conversations: Some individuals find it helpful to talk to ChatGPT as a form of therapy or emotional support.
  • Virtual Assistance: ChatGPT can perform basic virtual assistant tasks, such as setting reminders, or providing weather updates.
  • Artistic Creations: Artists and creatives experiment with ChatGPT to generate ideas, dialogue, or even collaborative storytelling projects.

While this can save individual people time, this is not where the generative Ai revolution will be. Why not? While making people more productive is what is grabbing the biggest headlines, if you save someone a few minutes or even a few hours, there's only two things they can do with the extra time:

  1. More work
  2. More leisure time

Eventually, like any productivity boosting tool, Ai assisted work will become the new normal. Any leisure time gained will fall away, and new productivity standards will take their place. By way of example, Google now saves us hours and hours because we no longer need to drive to the library and read dozens of periodicals or book to answer our questions; we can learn the answer in mere seconds, and unless the work demands it, the old school way of researching no longer applies.

In all the above cases, humans can do the things they are asking generative Ai to do, they just take longer to do it.

Where will the generative Ai revolution be?

The true impact of generative Ai will be seen in machine-to-machine interaction. It's not people asking generative Ai questions, it's code asking generative Ai questions that will change the way the world operates.  Here are some examples:

  1. Video games - enabling realtime conversations for storytelling and game development.
  2. Customer support - building chatbots for customer support and interaction.
  3. Business intelligence - answering B2B insights that couldn't otherwise be answered by having generative Ai parse private business data.
  4. Automation - automation of B2B tasks that otherwise couldn't be solved through programming.

These last two—business intelligence & automation—are opportunities that are now available, not only to big businesses, but to small & medium sized businesses, through automated workflows enabled by the cloud. ChatGPT is not the only Generative Ai solution out there: Google has Gemini (previously called Bard) and AWS has a number of services including Amazon Q, Amazon Bedrock, and Amazon CodeWhisperer.

Creating automated system using generative Ai allows incredible outputs, with almost no programming. Systems can ask questions or perform tasks like:

  • Given our application architecture what's the most likely way we would be hacked?
  • Where are the bottlenecks in our manufacturing process?
  • Notify me if the contributed code quality of any of my team members decreases or increases significantly.
  • Generate a monthly report on worker productivity.
  • Email me the three best (or worst) experiences from our customer support group on a weekly basis.
  • Block suspicious traffic on our website in realtime (we've launched a product that does this).

In some cases, this work might have involved extended periods of investigation and review by expensive experts; in other cases the work may have been impossible or radically cost prohibitive.

Why does this matter?

Because so many things are possible with generative Ai, it's tough to sort out the impact, but many of my peers in tech believe it will be enormous. Here's another quote on generative Ai, this one from the CEO of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT.

“I think AI is going to be the greatest force for economic empowerment and a lot of people getting rich we have ever seen.”

— Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI

I happen to agree with this... and I believe this is the flip-side of a dark reality on the horizon: a renaissance of automation and job destruction over the next several years. And it's already beginning.

Companies like Amazon, BlackRock, Nike, Intel, and Citigroup have announced plans for layoffs in 2024, and this is on top of the already significant cuts in the tech, media, manufacturing, finance, and retail industries in 2023. Numerous companies are citing AI as a major reason for layoffs.

Just like workers, businesses will be tested in their ability to adapt to a new Ai-enabled environment. So what is your company's Ai strategy? What questions or activities can your business automate using generative Ai?

If you don't have an answer or if you need to learn more about what is possible, Metal Toad and Amazon Web Services (AWS) can help. AWS knows that small and medium sized businesses need a financial boost to see how they can put Ai to work, so they are offering up to $25K for Proof of Concepts (POCs) that can include implementations of Ai technology. Don't wait—get started today and put Ai to work for your business.

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