The most meaningful advancements in generative AI won’t make those headlines because they’ll be happening under the radar -- for now.

Todd Johnson, Managing Director, Nexer Group

May 15, 2023

4 Min Read
2009 Tesla Roadster in Silver - Rear angle view
Drive Images via Alamy Stock

If you’re getting sick of all the ChatGPT headlines, you’re not alone. Since November, when OpenAI launched a public version of ChatGPT, conversation about generative AI in general (and ChatGPT in particular) has exploded.

Conversation isn’t the only thing that’s exploded, either: Since ChatGPT became available, other leading tech companies have tripped over themselves to launch competing products -- even when those products were (ahem) not quite ready.

What’s most interesting to me, though, is that we’ve seen this movie before. ChatGPT, as the most visible generative AI, is taking a role similar to Tesla’s in the EV space. Here’s a look at what that means for the brand -- and the future of generative AI.

Interesting, Spectacular, and Blown Out of Proportion

As we all “know” from social media, Teslas are constantly catching fire. Except -- they aren’t. In fact, 2022 research that compared car fires to total sales shows that EVs are the least likely to catch fire (hybrids are the most; those with internal combustion engines fall in the middle).

Of course, EVs do present fire-related problems that are different from those that internal combustion engine vehicles present. But so far, they’re the vehicles least prone to conflagrations of those on the road.

ChatGPT is facing the same kind of scrutiny. One day, it’s lauded for passing law and business school exams. The next, it’s being mocked for failing an accounting class. It scores sky-high on an IQ test but also is too prudish to offer medical guidance if reproductive health is involved.

What these headlines (and hundreds of others) illustrate is the power of novelty. Generative AI models are the hot new thing right now, and as the first mover in the space, ChatGPT is their poster child. This technology will meaningfully transform our lives in the same way the smartphone did. And right now, the sheer novelty is driving a frenzied coverage that dulls us to the larger implications of what generative AI will mean for our everyday lives.

When Generative AI Becomes the New Floor

As the novelty factor wears off, there will likely be a dormant phase of ChatGPT coverage. You won’t see quite so much hype (or hand wringing). And in the background, innovators will be building applications powered by large language models (LLM) and other generative AIs that change our daily experiences.

Again, think of Tesla as a model: it’s the dominant US EV brand today. More than half the EVs sold in the US are Teslas. I drive a Tesla. Every six weeks, I get a software update that makes the car a little bit better. That’s revolutionary. The expectation with traditional cars is that they’ll never be better than at the moment you drive them off the lot. And yet, my Tesla can do more today than it could when I bought it.

Eventually, that will be the baseline. And why shouldn’t it? We expect continual incremental software improvements to all our other electronics; why not our cars, as they, too, become software dependent?

Generative AI will follow a similar trajectory. We may still see headlines about the most sensational edge cases, but in the background, more and more AI applications will spring up. Eventually, we’ll wake up and realize we can’t imagine our daily lives without it.

For example: picture a customer service employee who logs into work in the morning. There were storms in Memphis last night, so a lot of FedEx packages have been delayed. The employee might not yet know that, but the company’s AI does.

As distressed customers start calling in, the employee is receiving real-time updates about cleanup efforts and new expected delivery timelines. That employee is able to deliver vastly better service and the customer is able to receive reassurance faster -- all facilitated by generative AI working in the background.

No Silver Bullet

Maybe the most important parallel between ChatGPT and Tesla is that neither is a silver bullet for today’s biggest challenges.

Teslas may have lower tailpipe emissions than their internal combustion forebears, but a lot of electricity in the US still comes from “dirty” sources. And even when we are pulling from more renewable sources, EVs won’t reduce traffic congestion.

Similarly, generative AIs are only as powerful as the data they’re trained with: the old “garbage in, garbage out” adage applies. Like every hyped technology that’s been the poster child of digital transformation, generative AI will require serious backend work -- and even cultural change at organizations using it -- to have its biggest potential impacts.

The Big Picture: Don’t Be Distracted by the Noise

I have no doubt we’ll see more ChatGPT headlines in the coming weeks and months. I’m also convinced that the most meaningful advancements in generative AI won’t make those headlines, because they’ll be happening under the radar -- for now. They’ll enter our lives subtly, until we’re existing symbiotically with the technology -- whether we realize it or not.

About the Author(s)

Todd Johnson

Managing Director, Nexer Group

Todd Johnson is a Managing Director at Nexer Group. Businesses around the world rely on Nexer for ERP, data analytics, internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI) expertise.

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