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AI Part 3: How much should I worry about AI, or is this mostly hype?

Before reading this article, please read: “AI Part 1: Breaking the frame of how we think about AI” and “AI Part 2: Business leaders get ready”

I first experienced technology hype in 1995. I was a lonely, homeschooled 11-year-old who spent my free time learning everything possible about computers.

I heard the news on a sunny spring morning: Windows 95 was coming. And it was promised to be an operating system unlike anything that came before it. Week by week, I learned more: It would play videos, record audio, provide access to the Internet, and feature dazzling screensavers.  And all the magic centered around a button labeled “Start.”

The day USA Today featured a full double page ad with nothing but this mystical “Start” button in the middle, I just knew I was about to be part of the most important technological advancement of our time.

The countdown to launch day began.

Ah, Windows 95…

In the decades since, we have all witnessed much greater technological advancements. We have lived through the .com boom, the smartphone explosion, and the social media invasion. But for me, nothing evoked the pitch of emotion that surrounded Windows 95.

The frenzy around AI is something entirely other.

It is hard to know how to respond to it. The story of AI promises disruption at such existential levels it is difficult to grasp: Are we headed for work-free, equality-for-all utopia?  Or for a post-apocalyptic world serving digital overlords? Or for a world like this one, with another new tool, and another overhyped launch in our memory?

I’m asked regularly by professionals and business leaders: Should I pay special attention to AI?  Or is this just more technological hype?

Until recently, my answer was that AI was evolving, but in very targeted ways. Understand the niches, keep an eye on it, but don’t worry about it (I even wrote articles to this effect).  This was the consensus of experts and the prediction of most futurists.

But when ChatGPT was released on November 30, 2022, it quickly became clear that this was a threshold moment in AI development.

Then, in April of 2023, the underlying intelligence was upgraded to GPT4 and the nature of that threshold became apparent: This was the starting gun in a race to a new kind of AI, and to the rapid integration of it. Recent months have been turbulent and chaotic in the tech industry.

Change has been so rapid, that most of us have struggled to grasp the significance of all it portends.  For me, it took rounds of dialogs with leading thinkers from cognitive science, AI research, and tech startups.

They helped me understand that behind the drama and hype is a titanic shift.  The development of the new models of Artificial Intelligence is an epicenter out of which shockwaves of disruption will slam into every business large and small in coming months and years, and the time to prepare is now.

There are 4 reasons why every professional and business leader should be investing significant and focused attention on Artificial Intelligence now, not later:

  1. AI is more than technology. It is intelligence grown on technology. Intelligence is of a higher order than simply technology, and it functions differently. While technology serves our will with specific instructions, AI can be given a goal and then autonomously complete it, using judgement along the way. Technology is a self-driving tractor. AI is a self-driving tractor with the goal of “make the property more beautiful” that autonomously buys new plants, builds a rock wall, and repaves your driveway while you sleep. And maybe also knocks down your house to plant a garden, to “make the property more beautiful.”

    Therefore, it provides the possibility of entirely new business model approaches, it rapidly makes obsolete whole      classes of jobs, and it redefines our relationships to problem solving, to work, and to each other.


  1. AI is attracting extreme levels of investment. OpenAI rapidly accelerated the race to smarter and more capable AIs.  Billions are pouring into the industry, with tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Meta pivoting to increase the pace of AI and to unleash it into every facet of their organization. The current pace of investment into AI could build a new Hoover Dam every 2 days.


  1. The barriers to implementation are low. While much of the power of AI will come once it has been tuned for specific industries and integrated into existing line-of-business applications, freely available tools like ChatGPT are already available and require no integration.  And for the software integration, the AI itself can generate the code necessary to implement.


  1. It is already intelligent enough to cause significant disruption. GPT4 is already a formidable intelligence. It can write stories, teach lessons, draw up legal contracts, design home layouts, solve complex problems, and answer technical questions.  Google’s Med-PaLM can already pass the medical exam. These AIs don’t need to become smarter to disrupt industry significantly: they simply must be integrated and safeguarded. But of course, they will keep getting smarter, as GPT5 will be released by the end of 2023.


AI is novel. The pace of change is extreme and accelerating. For most businesses, the barriers are low before massive disruption hits (along with its accompanying threat and opportunity). Disruption does not require the invention of newer, smarter AIs: Simply of the implementation of the artificial intelligence already available on the market.

I cannot escape the conclusion: we must prepare now.

Mainstay is investing in education, implementation, and safeguards for AI internally. We have developed a cross-functional team, a full-time implementation engineer role, and a series of tests that help us to reimagine business with AI.  We are working to educate and empower our clients, so we can all anticipate what’s coming, prepare, and work to minimize the threat and pursue the opportunities of AI.

And this is just the beginning. We recommend that all business leaders and professionals work to understand AI, partner with it, and move to the cutting-edge of their field. The threatened pace of disruption is too great for a “wait and see” approach.

The time to prepare is now.