Exploring the real-world applications of generative AI
I think we’ve all realized by now that the explosion of artificial intelligence this year is really going to make some major changes to the world. Every one of us will have heard of AI tools like ChatGPT, Google Bard, and DALL-E, which can create all types of content in a matter of just seconds. And every day, there’s a new story about the different fields and industries adopting these tools, along with the weird and wonderful ways they can be used.
So it seems that generative AI is here to stay. But exactly how we respond to it and the way we build our new AI-enabled future is where we need to look next.
What do people think of generative AI?
The introduction of AI tools this year has certainly been sudden. While we are more accustomed to graduate technological adoption, AI in 2023 has been quite a shock to the system.
The response has been mixed, with some that welcome the great promises of the new AI capabilities, while others warn of various potential dangers.
In March, an open letter signed by a list of big names in tech called for a 6-month pause on AI development while the world catches up. Even the CEO of OpenAI, Sam Altman, said that he agreed with parts of the letter.
More recently, Altman joined the warnings issued by the Center for AI Safety (CAIS), a not-for-profit organization. Hundreds of other industry employees have also put their names to the statement, along with celebrities that include musician Grimes and podcaster Sam Harris.
When a recent UK-based YouGov poll asked Americans about the impact of AI tools on society, 19% see the technology as a good thing for society, and 34% see it as a bad thing, with 24% neutral and 23% undecided. However, a closer look at the different age groups shows that younger people have a more positive attitude towards AI.
The Pew Research Center found that among Americans that know a little about AI tools, only 16% thought that it represents a major advance in writing news articles, compared to those that saw it as a minor advance (28%), not any advance at all (45%).
But the same group saw the advantages of AI in more specific areas, with as many as 59% seeing the application of AI as a major advance in predicting protein structures in cells, compared to the minority seeing it as a minor advance (27%). Other fields for which a greater proportion saw AI as a major advance were producing drought and heat-resistant crops, and predicting extreme weather.
In a recent Namecheap survey on generative AI, respondents revealed that they were most excited about generative AI for the purposes of content creation and marketing. The biggest concerns involved false information shared as fact and misuse of intellectual property.
The YouGov poll found that most Americans — on both sides of the political divide — support the government regulation of artificial intelligence. And when Altman testified before Congress last month, he also recommended that senators introduce new AI regulations.
Europe is stricter on tech regulation, and AI is no exception. ChatGPT was banned in Italy for 20 days over privacy concerns, and in May, the European Parliament introduced the AI Act to govern the way the technology is used.
How are people using generative AI?
It hasn’t been widely available for a long time, but it already seems that generative AI tools are being taken up by people working in different fields.
The Namecheap survey found that 40% of respondents use generative AI tools daily, and 10% use them on a monthly basis. The vast majority (70%) use ChatGPT, with around 30% using DALL-E or Midjourney. Most people are using these tools for work purposes.
Another poll found that 80% of Nature readers have already used AI tools, and 43% use them for writing code, assistance in writing manuscripts, creating presentations, literature research, and research.
So what can these AI tools actually do for us? Many people have wholeheartedly embraced the new technology and here are some of the ways they have been increasing efficiency and productivity in their daily work:
- Bringing improvements to customer service by summarizing past conversations and chats when referring to previous interactions with customers.
- Using ChatGPT to create an online business on a budget of $100.
- Writers are using ChatGPT to assist with writings tasks like brainstorming article titles, writing press releases, creating call-to-action terms, and creating article summaries.
- Celebrated musicians using AI tools for such things as producing voice samples, after months of neural network training.
- Respondents to the Namecheap survey said they use AI tools for ideation, data analysis, summary writing, creating illustrations, and writing code.
It would be great if AI could help us get through our daily work more easily. But some people have gone beyond that, experimenting and pushing the tech to see just how far it can go.
Here are some of the amazing things people have been using AI tools for:
- Creating a ChatGPT plugin that can be used to come up with a list of domain name ideas, which then checks if they are available — all within the ChatGPT software.
- In the field of blockchain, ChatGPT has been used to check for security issues with a new Ethereum contract.
- Making a game of Pong in less than 60 seconds. Well, it may not be too impressive considering where we are in technological advancements, but the speed is incredible!
These are just some of the jobs that people have found for AI tools, but the list is growing by the day. Right now, everyone is keen to hear about the creative new ways generative AI is being applied.
What’s next for generative AI?
As we’ve seen, AI tools are already helping people working in different fields. They have been particularly useful for people working in marketing and related fields. But in the future, we are likely to see these capabilities taken to a whole new level.
Gartner predicts that generative AI will find a place in five new areas: drug design, material science, chip design, synthetic data, and part design. This means AI tools will take on the roles of scientist and engineer, bringing much more efficiency to disparate industries.
Does this mean that technology will advance faster and we will see some amazing breakthroughs, curing diseases and improving climatic conditions? When I asked ChatGPT, the answer I received was affirmative and optimistic. The concluding sentence of the paragraph read: The possibilities are truly endless!