ChatGPT-style AI bots have ‘lit a fire in boardrooms’ and it’s all thanks to slick design, says AI unicorn ‘chief wizard’ – Yahoo Finance

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ChatGPT’s explosive launch in November 2022 caused an immediate frenzy among venture capitalists, high school students and anybody who does creative work. And although well over a year has passed, people still can’t stop talking about the large language model’s impact on humanity—and whether it will create a three-day week for workers or doom us all. 

Even JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon weighed in that the hysteria was justified because nearly all professions will experience an AI makeover.

This is not hype,” the Wall Street titan warned. “This is real.”

But the CEO of one of London’s AI unicorns disagrees. Sachin Dev Duggal, founder and “chief wizard” at Builder.ai thinks much of the fuss has been blown way out of proportion.

“Conversational computational conversation has been around since the ’30s,” Duggal said on a panel at Fortune’s Brainstorm AI conference in London. “This stuff isn’t new.”

So why the sudden explosion of interest? In Duggal’s eyes, it all comes down to ChatGPT’s slick interface.

“You had a design paradigm shift,” he explained. “We’re used to a world full of canvases and forms and suddenly we moved to a world that looked like a WhatsApp conversation—and that channel of communication was reserved for humans.

“One of the most complex technologies that we’ve ever experienced in our lives became as simple as a conversation and that is what lit the fire at the boardroom,” he added. “The interface was so easy to ingest and so easy for people to try that people’s imaginations went wild.”

Sachin started building PCs at 14 years old, and by 17 he had built one of the world’s first automatic currency arbitrage trading systems for Deutsche Bank.

He started a cloud computing company, Nivio, while he was still studying at Imperial College and sold it for a whopping $100 million.

The serial entrepreneur then put some of this money into launching Builder.ai, the company that wants to make building software as easy as ordering pizza.

To date, the company has raised over $450 million and has more than 900 employees.

Remember: Computers and steam engines were once scary

The public’s reaction to what he calls not-so-new technology reminded Duggal of the reception to the steam engine in the 18th century.

“People got very upset,” he said, before adding that ultimately it was a “great thing” for the everyday worker. “They went to school afterwards and became professors and doctors and artists.”

Just like the AI panic we are witnessing right now, workers of a certain age may remember the palpable fear when computers first burst on the scene in the 1980s. “These can take such forms as fear of physically touching the computer,” the 1996 book Women and Computers detailed.

Today, these concerns seem quite irrational and many professions have undergone a digital rebrand.

Pointing to previous advancements like the inventions of the internet, Evan Goldberg—the man behind the world’s first cloud software company, Oracle NetSuite—previously echoed to Fortune that “so far, none of these technologies have resulted in mass unemployment… Human beings have found that they still have unique skills that are valuable, and have adapted.”

Likewise, IBs CEO Arvind Krishna predicted at the Fortune CEO Initiative conference that the technology will create far more jobs than it eliminates.

“People mistake productivity with job displacement,” he said. “In 1995, no one thought there would be 5 million web designers—there are.”

It’s a good reminder that our worst fears about technology have seldom materialized.

But increased productivity could equal fewer jobs

Although, as Krishna noted, increased productivity doesn’t mean that workers will experience mass layoffs overnight—it does mean that businesses may not need as many workers.

“Tasks that people did will disappear,” Duggal explained, adding that AI will take on a lot of the drudge work, leaving people with more time to do “more creative and fulfilling” work.

“For example, I hate taking notes,” he added. “I’m going to have AI sit in the meeting to take notes. Have I lost my job? No because my job wasn’t to take notes. But I can now do other things.”

But the efficiency uptick may result in a hiring slowdown—in fact, Duggal says it’s already happening. The CEO said that his company’s 2024 people plan is already much smaller than last year’s.

“We now know we can get more productivity out. We can now do things that we couldn’t do before so we’re going to hire less folks, but I’m not seeing anyone leave the company because entire jobs have been replaced by AI,” Duggal concluded.

Builder.ai sponsored the AI in Action: Business Impact Beyond the Hype panel at Fortune Brainstorm AI London.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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