This is a guest post by Markus Weidner
I’m pretty sure everyone has seen an attention-grabbing headline about how robotic process automation, machine learning (RPA/ML), and artificial general intelligence (AI) threaten our very existence. While this “new” raft of technologies is not new at all (large language models, for example, have been around for years), the very public realization about its impact and the hyperbolic howls of our human demise is noteworthy. This is not a flash-in-the-pan event.
Moreover, it’s wise to adopt a position where we accurately assess and estimate the potential for huge advances in several industries, including our own. For example, the rapid adoption of LLMs has already led to some people using RPA/ML learning to help cover periodic labor gaps and shortages. So it’s not all bad.
As the months and years roll along in this post-AI world of business, and as the hype curve wanes, the true productive uses will emerge quickly and relentlessly, and we will edge toward a moment when suddenly the notion of the absence of AI will be all but forgotten.
A bit of history…
In a recent talk on AI, I noted, to mild surprise, that the actual term “artificial intelligence” has been around since 1956. In fact, Alan Turing not only holds the title “father of modern computing” but also contributed to the United States’ ultimate victory during WWII.
A series of rapid developments after Turing’s computer laid the groundwork for what we take for granted today: In the 1970s, research was already underway to have computational systems solve complex problems. In the 1980s, AI was already being used on a limited basis in robotics and computer-aided drafting.
In fact, by the 2000s, we were already devising neural networks capable of deep learning in what, in many cases, were the precursor to today’s large language models. The most famous computer brain of its time, IBM’s “Watson,” even beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy in 2011.
The last 13 years have simply been a whirlwind of accelerated development with literally no end in sight and tech stars such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg advancing their own agendas and roadmaps toward an AI-driven future.