The age of (me needing to learn more about) AI has begun

Bill Gates, on his blog, writing about AI and how transformative it will be for the world:

I knew I had just seen the most important advance in technology since the graphical user interface.

This inspired me to think about all the things that AI can achieve in the next five to 10 years.

The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone. It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get health care, and communicate with each other. Entire industries will reorient around it. Businesses will distinguish themselves by how well they use it.

I wish that there was an audio version of this article with Gates’s voice: it’s a good read and it gives a lot to think about. Seeing Bill Gates himself compare AI to the creation of the personal computer almost gave me goosebumps (is that weird?), as I feel like we’re witnessing history and a technological revolution that seems to really happen only every fifteen to twenty years.

But am I the only one being a little uncomfortable by the level of excitement and wonder around this new generation of AI?

I don’t mean this as in I don’t believe in the potential of it all, not only it would be foolish not too, but this is not why it bothers me. I am somehow frightened by this future, and not because of the risks and problems of AI that Gates describes, but frightened as in a little overwhelmed, worried, and afraid not to be able to understand it as well I as I think I understand the current state of technology, namely the internet, computers, mobile phones, etc. Is uneasy the right word? “Any new technology that’s so disruptive is bound to make people uneasy,” writes Gates, so I guess it is the right word.

In a way, I’m scared of losing this current world, and becoming like my beloved grandmother was with the internet: aware of its existence, its potential, its dangers, but clueless on how to use it, how it works, and how to integrate it in her life. Hopefully, this won’t happen to me: I already know a few things about these first modern-AI tools, I already use some of them at work (for translations, for a quick improvement of my English on an important email, etc.), and I even already wrote about it on this blog.

But this stressful sensation remains. When the iPhone was unveiled, I was happy, ecstatic. Today, I can’t say I’m ecstatic, or excited about this revolution. Curious yes, enthusiastic maybe, but not happy. I don’t want to say it sort of makes me sick, but maybe it does, in a very soft and gentle way?

I definitely need to read more about this topic, and not only about the popular tools for illustration, search, and things like productivity apps like Microsoft Office or Google Workplace. AI and its almighty power is obviously more than an upgraded version of the “I’m feeling lucky” button. Gates’s blog post was a good start, plus there are a few recommendations for further reading. I feel like I need to get more familiar with this kind of perspectives, like a kid who needs practice riding its bike until the fear dissipate and the comfort settles. I need to read more books and articles about AI, and rather sooner than later.

Also, how cool is it that Bill Gates shared his thoughts on his blog instead of a column on the Guardian, Vanity Fair, or the New York Times? Now that makes me happy.