By Garnet River Research
It’s a simple enough question, as well as timely and intentionally thought-provoking: is AI really revolutionary?
Gutenberg’s printing press revolutionized communication, taking us from superstitions and folk wisdom to books, newspapers, and an accessible universe of information.
The scientific method of hypotheses and experimentation revolutionized our understanding of the world, taking us from conjecture to corroboration, from myths to mastery.
The concept of energy and its incorporation into the steam engine revolutionized industry, taking us from bespoke to mass production, from scarcity to plenty.
If AI is to join these landmark moments, then it must have revolutionized something. But what?
In a word: synthesis.
In some sense, AI takes previous revolutions—communications, scientific, industrial—and combines them into one overarching structure that probes deeply into human understanding, interaction, and productivity.
Prior to AI, our era’s most notable change was software.
Old-school software collects data; AI is designed to learn from and generate explanations of data.
Old-school software accumulates and organizes. AI analyzes, understands, innovates, and predicts.
The difference is not just in quantity but in focus…and not just in power but in purpose. AI is not just a tool for employees, as robotic process automation (RPA) is, rather AI is an employee—a digital employee.
AI is software that has learned how to learn by synthesizing all the knowledge of humankind: language, mathematics, and qualitative analysis of esoteric subjects. Where old-school software accumulated and organized data, AI accumulates and organizes facts, theories, opinions, beliefs, speculations…and then converses and creates.
For perspective, consider this. For more than 25 years we’ve formulated queries for search engines and evaluated hits for relevancy. From this point forward, we’ll “talk” with search engines, and they’ll “talk” back. We will, in fact, be conversing (with software)—with breathtaking effectiveness—in a way that revolutionizes how we work and interact with technology.
So is AI really revolutionary? Yes, monumentally so, and because of what AI can do, it can’t be ignored.