Are we Overestimating the Impact of AI?

November 30, 2023 marked the anniversary of ChatGPT, and it prompted me to reflect on a phenomenon we’ve witnessed time and time again when a new technology emerges:

“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the
short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”
; a concept often
attributed to Roy Amara, leading to the term “Amara’s Law.” This
axiom continues to hold true!

If we cast our minds back a few decades, we can observe a
familiar behavioural pattern that has accompanied the introduction of
technologies such as personal computers, smartphones, social media platforms, cloud computing, and blockchain.

In their early days, each of these innovations generated a whirlwind of excitement, with many people overestimating their immediate impact. However, as the initial fervour subsided, and these technologies matured, gained wider adoption, and became integrated into our daily lives, their profound and far-reaching effects—both positive and negative—became evident.

It’s safe to say that the field of artificial intelligence (AI) is no exception. Over the past year or so, AI has been the talk of the town, not only in professional spheres like LinkedIn and industry events but also in casual conversations and family gatherings.

In the short term, I don’t foresee AI rendering lawyers and computer programmers redundant, nor do I subscribe to the notion that smart
robots will conquer the world!

However, looking ahead to the long run, it becomes increasingly clear that this remarkable technological development will exert a profound influence on how we approach various aspects of life and work. By the time AI becomes ubiquitous, seamlessly woven into the fabric of our existence, we may take it for granted, much like we do with the internet and smartphones today.