There are all kinds of top-10 predictions going around for the year ahead. As I have for every year going back to 2014, I want to limit mine to a single half-baked prediction to ponder.
For the year ahead, the key trend, as yours truly sees it, is “artificial intelligence for all.”
Tapping into the power of AI will no longer require being a Ph.D-level data scientist, fussing over statistical probabilities, designing algorithms, or worrying about the viability of test data. (Though these are still vitally important.) You just use AI as you would a search engine. I’m referring to the likes of ChatGPT, of course.
AI has been lurching toward democratization — accessible to all without the need for expertise — for some time now. Salesforce has had its Einstein platform in play for some time, as has Grammarly offered AI-powered writing assistance. Of course, many other applications employ AI behind the scenes, and we all encounter AI-powered chatbots in our “customer experience journeys.”
Lately, as exemplified by ChatGPT, AI-powered insights are now as easy to use as a search engine. In fact, the likes of ChatGPT may represent the next generation of search engines, with requested information bundled into a single flowing story, versus lists of links.
While I have questions about the legal implications of pulling AI-generated text down for purposes beyond personal inquiries (I’ll be writing on this topic soon), such democratized AI tools may help reshape and inform our aspirations in many ways not previously possible.
“There are also many use cases around putting AI directly into the hands of non-technical end-users,” says Dr. Vishal Sikka, founder and CEO of Vianai Systems. “We see this outside the enterprise with Generative AI where anyone can create image mashups and other things,” he says. “In enterprises, AI can be directly put into the hands of non-technical users, for example, via causal inference for marketing professionals. There are other such examples in healthcare and other industries, where AI can amplify the work of the user, for example a doctor, by putting those AI tools directly into their hands.”
The potential for democratized AI to assist new business ideas is documented by Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “ChatGPT might be able to provide some incredibly useful help along the way,” he explains. “It is no substitute for education, instead it provides a tool for helping founders in a very practical way. And this is particularly valuable for founders who may otherwise have not started a company because they are held back by a perceived weakness, whether that be poor writing ability or a lack of experience with topics like market research.”
For example, as a highly informed assistant that could help you launch a new venture. Entrepreneurship is something everyone should experience in their lives, multiple times if possible. But oftentimes, people throw themselves out there on an idea and a whim, and it’s often difficult to get thorough insights on what the possibilities may or may not be. The US Small Business Administration has a great mentoring program called SCORE in which retired executives and other volunteers will help you grow your idea. Of course, you can get great tips on financing and ideation from shows such as Shark Tank. AI can’t replace such expertise, but may help gel and validate ideas as soon as they come to mind, be it for startups or new ideas within existing organizations.
Or consider how medical professionals can now just pull insights from AI-powered platforms to imporve patient care. Alignment Health, for example, employs AI to “play the pivotal role of a doctor in the family through its AI-powered AVA platform. leveraging data-driven and actionable insights to provide better care outcomes and improved care experience,” says Dr. Arta Bakshandeh, chief medical informatics officer at Alignment Health. “This high-tech system powers each virtual care interaction with personalized and predictive information about every member. By unifying more than 200 unique member data sets with over 13,000 individual attributes and then assessing the data through 170-plus artificial intelligence models.” The tool also “predicts care alerts such as risk for hospitalization and disease propensity, engaging clinical teams to intervene before such early warning signs turn into a true emergency,” Bakshandeh adds.
AI isn’t the final word on things, but rather, can provide helpful nudges to open up new ways of thinking. ChatGPT’s output, for instance, “works even better to spark personal exploration of startup concepts,” Mollick says. “And, you can always tell ChatGPT to revise the results as well.” An innovator can also ask ChatGPT “to outline a business plan for this idea. But, again, the value is in going deeper.”
Many ideas or insights can be delivered through the ChatGPT output. “The fact that some might be bad, or inaccurate, doesn’t matter because no entrepreneur will be able to simply follow the AI, or be able to get enough useful advice to run a business,” says Mollick. “Instead, the lowering of barriers is what is important. And these answers are more than good enough to help point to next steps.”
Again, AI tools such as ChatGPT are good for recommendations, but that’s as far as it goes. “I would be careful with taking specific advice from the AI too seriously, but as a motivator for next steps, and a way of outlining potential plans, it can be very helpful. AI is not a substitute for advice from professionals, or even for classes on entrepreneurship, instead, it fills a different role: it lowers barriers and multiplies the often over-stretched time of the busy founder.”
Indeed, AI for all has finally arrived.