I was getting a facial the other day (and yes, I am a guy that likes to take care of my skin) and the woman providing my service and I were talking. She has a new boyfriend, and he has a daughter who is in college. The daughter came home from school and told her that she can use GenAI in school and the teachers would not know she used it, and it would help to ensure really good grades. The woman providing my service knew I worked in the technology space and asked me if what her boyfriend’s daughter was saying was true and what is GenAI and will it make us less smart if it has all the answers?
My first comment was, well she isn’t right and there are solutions available, especially to faculty which they can use to determine if the content handed in is GenAI or work of their own, so you should probably tell her to be very careful.
Then I thought about her question if GenAI would make us less smart. As I pondered the question, I formulated a response similar to this.
I often think, being an employee in his 50’s, working in marketing, that I need to work much harder to stay on top of the content creation ideas in order to be of value to the company. The younger generation is seeing and experiencing these ideas in real time so they may be in a better position to offer the company greater value. I have found that by being able to take advantage of GenAI tools, allows me to be as interactive and creative as the younger generation. GenAI puts me on par with the emerging generation. However the one thing I do have that they don’t at this point in my career is experience and experience is important.
Just like Google, and having access to all the world’s information, didn’t all of the sudden make me less valuable, what I needed to do was adapt and learn how to use the tool. This is the same for GenAI. I may not have all the answers, but what I do know how to do is ask the right questions, and that only comes with experience. GenAI may provide opportunities to not learn about a particular subject you are forced to study in school and then create a paper on that subject, but will that paper be any good if you don’t have a basic understanding of the subject or know how to use the tool to dig deeper to give the paper meaning? This feels the same to me in my role at my job. I may not have all the knowledge I need about a particular topic I need to work on and I could use GenAI. But how do I know that the information I am getting from the tool is correct? I need to probe and ask deeper questions in order to get a better, and much faster I may add, understanding of the topic. Only then will I be sure the work I do around that topic or idea has merit.
My answer to her was, “I am 55 years old. I am not going to learn a lot of new tricks to keep up with the younger generation that may be doing these new tricks. GenAI provides me a way to come up to speed on ideas I may have not been able to before. I think GenAI provides ways to make an older generation, that has seen new technology advancements, a way to continue to grow. I do think, if not used thought the lens of, in what ways can this new tool help me, but, what is the answer, it will make the younger generation less smart and lazy.”
This is a concern I have with the younger populace in management today helping their companies try to determine if GenAI will be able to replace a person. While GenAI will make us more efficient in a lot of ways, you still need the expertise to know what questions to ask to deliver quality context. Therefore, you still need experience. Experience to make sure what is being created is on brand, experience to make sure what is being created speaks to YOUR audience, experience to make sure what is being created is of the quality your company wants to put out. GenAI is a good tool, just like a jig saw is a good tool, you will just need to learn how to use it properly.