Jan 24, 2023 - Technology

The chatter around ChatGPT

Illustration of a question mark and an exclamation point surounded by circles and arrows.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There's a reason ChatGPT was the talk of this year's Davos forum: Everyone is trying to make sense of what the technology will mean for their corner of the world.

Even tech experts are shocked at just how fast generative AI tools have matured.

  • One major tech company CEO I spoke to in Davos told me he knew all about the large language model approach that underlies these generative AI tools — but he wouldn't have predicted, even six months ago, that they would emerge as the game-changers they are shaping up to be.

Business leaders are trying to seize the opportunity. Eager to seize on the next potential productivity boost, many CEOs are trying to figure out if tools like ChatGPT could enable them to cut costs, offer new products or get a leg up on competition.

  • Mihir Shukla, CEO of Automation Anywhere, said his firm's AI software is already automating a host of knowledge worker tasks, such as processing mortgage applications and even helped overworked nurses in the UK during the height of the Covid pandemic.
  • "I like to think it made a difference between life and death," he told me during a panel on AI and white-collar jobs Friday.

Educators are worried. New York City schools were quick to ban the technology from their networks, an approach that many see as wrong-headed, akin to trying to prevent students from using calculators or Wikipedia.

  • A better approach could be to embrace the technology and encourage students to identify where it falls short — a set of skills that will be critical for a generation of knowledge workers that will be toiling along side such technologies.

It also has the potential to reshape geopolitics. Who leads in AI matters, Microsoft president Brad Smith said at an Axios event in Davos. "This is going to be extraordinarily important for international competitiveness and the national security of countries," Smith said.

Be smart: ChatGPT and similar tools are the definition of disruptive technologies. Lots of things will change. Guardrails may be needed, but the genie isn't going back in the bottle.

Go deeper:

How ChatGPT became the next big thing

What ChatGPT can't do

Newsrooms reckon with AI following CNET saga

Why Microsoft is betting big on ChatGPT

What's next for ChatGPT

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