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The Power of ChatGPT.
According to the book The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, back in the 1440s, “…the first craftsmen to introduce printing in Italy (and in France and Spain) came from Germany. These pioneers were followed by their compatriots (until they) provoked complaints about ‘German interlopers driving honest Italian scribes out of work.’”
The book The Unsung Heroes, a History of Print says the response to the invention of the printing press was bad enough that it “…led many superstitious people… to equate printing with Satan because it seemed to be magical.”
But once the practical applications of the printing press were understood by the Roman Catholic Church, Gutenberg’s position was enhanced. In 1465, the archbishop of Mainz pensioned Gutenberg, awarding him grain, wine, and clothing, and exempting him from certain taxes.
But it wasn’t just the invention of the printing press that generated controversy and conflict.
Starting with Britain’s Vaccination Act of 1853, all the way to today’s rejection of COVID vaccines, some have considered vaccinations a “foreign assault on traditional order.”
And there’s more…
According to CNN, “The first passenger elevator opened in New York City in 1857” but it was “closed in 1860 because nobody wanted to ride it.”
Canada banned margarine from 1886 to 1948.
When my father was in architecture school, he was not allowed to bring a slide rule to class. He only learned to master one when he trained as a navigator in the Air Force. When I was in college, we were not allowed to bring calculators into math class (although by then a slide rule was permitted). And then, when my son took algebra some 30 years after me, bringing an HP graphing calculator to the same class was not only allowed, but was a mandatory requirement.
From the beginning of recorded history to the English Luddites in the early 1800s to today’s Neo-Luddites, fear of new technology is nothing new. According to Wikipedia, “Neo-Luddism stipulates the use of the precautionary principles for all new technologies, insisting that technologies be proven safe before adoption due to the unknown effects that new technologies might inspire.”
Watching people’s over-the-top reactions to AI and the power of ChatGPT, I can’t help but hear Yogi Berra quipping “It’s deja vu all over again.”
New York City Schools, along with their peers in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Baltimore, have banned the use of ChatGPT by their students. So have schools in Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, and lots of places in between.
And it’s not just limited to primary education. Colleges and Universities in France, India, and other places around the world have banned the AI research tool.
But not every school is reacting with backward-looking horror. Schools in Missouri and Vermont permit the technology but have altered their honor codes. Both the State University in Buffalo, NY, and Furman University in North Carolina are creating required curricula for incoming freshmen to show them how to use the new tools in productive and responsible ways.
When science fiction author Arthur C. Clark wrote that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” he could certainly have been talking about the power of ChatGPT. Not only is the new technology staggering in its implications, but so is interest around it. When I had the AI bot write my blog post a couple of weeks ago and then used AI to produce the video without shooting a custom vlog, the post received more interest and comments than anything I’ve written in 15 years.
The Power of ChatGPT.
While discussing ChatGPT’s importance and implications requires a lot more space than this blog (or your attention span) would allow, the conclusion is simple: like all the inventions we talked about at the beginning of this discussion, AI is not going away. The smart response, therefore, is not to run from it or to duck your head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, but to embrace the change and look to discover how you can use the power of ChatGPT to improve your business and your life.