Unlock the Editor’s Digest for free and get ready for some mind-blowing insights. We all know that hype follows innovation like a shadow. New technologies emerge, capturing our attention, but often the hype surrounding them is exaggerated or simply inaccurate. Henry Ajder, a guru in generative artificial intelligence and synthetic media, puts it best, saying, “From crypto to non-fungible tokens to the metaverse, we’ve witnessed some seriously insane hype around questionable technologies.” Now, when it comes to AI, it’s the hottest trend in technology, and unlike its predecessors, it actually has numerous practical applications. Ajder believes that AI is “legitimately different from those other hype cycles,” presenting a real opportunity for substantial and meaningful change.
For senior executives on executive MBA programs, distinguishing the true value of AI is crucial. They need to ensure that they don’t waste their resources and reputations on AI projects that fail to live up to their promises. However, technology professionals and experts are not ready to dismiss the potential of AI. Chirag Mahawar, chief of staff for the CEO’s office at Quolum, a “software as a service” company, explains how ChatGPT and other similar AI tools have raised the standards for workers. These tools can quickly generate responses to questions, potentially matching or surpassing the quality of an average worker’s response. Mahawar states, “If an AI tool can give an answer in a matter of seconds, why should my supervisor wait a day or two for the same advice? It’s time to sharpen your existing skills.”
Ajder, who has delved into generative AI topics for years, agrees that there are numerous potential use cases for AI. He doesn’t want to downplay its value, admitting that there are genuinely useful applications. However, he emphasizes the importance of considering whether the technology is mature enough to deliver the desired value before diving headfirst into it. He highlights the example of AI-generated articles that have suffered from so-called “hallucinations,” where the systems invent inaccurate facts. This kind of mistake can be not only embarrassing but also potentially costly. Ajder attributes it to the fear of missing out and the rush to the market, comparing it to the companies that hurriedly created virtual storefronts in metaverses that turned out to be disappointing and deserted.
It’s not just business leaders who need to analyze AI offerings critically; business schools also need to ensure that their students can discern the real value of AI. Many AI start-ups may seem impressive at first glance but fail to impress upon closer examination. Some products may simply be application programming interfaces (APIs) with attractive packaging, putting their fate in the hands of OpenAI or Google. Ajder warns against mistaking novelty for actual revolutionary technology due to fear of missing out. Alex Connock, a senior fellow at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, acknowledges the substance and hype surrounding generative AI. In fact, there have been around 2,200 start-ups in the field since January. However, he points out that while venture capitalists were initially hyped about AI investments, demand has seen a decline. Connock draws parallels with Hollywood, where movies that showed evidence of human creativity performed well, demonstrating the importance of originality and fresh ideas over rehashing existing patterns.
So, business school students can breathe a sigh of relief. Despite the rise of AI systems that are often presented as replacements for human skills, Connock believes that traditional business school skills will be more important than ever. Skills like presenting, storytelling, analysis, persuasion, writing original material, and structuring original ideas will prevail in the boardrooms of the future. In an era of AI disruption and ongoing uncertainty, Connock finds inspiration in Franz Liszt’s ambition as a composer — to hurl his javelin into the infinite space of the future. His advice to students is to enter the workplace with a clear perspective on the value they bring, to be well-versed in AI at every level, but not overly paranoid about it. With your own firm vision, you can confidently face the future.