Is ChatGPT the tipping point unto a new age?

Saturday February 18 2023
ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by OpenAI

ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched on November 30, 2022. PHOTO | JAAP ARRIENS | NURPHOTO VIA AFP


If ever there was a time to reskill and position for change it’s now. Mankind foresaw the digital future coming and must now embrace it, warts and all

Are we on the verge of the breakdown of modern society as we know it? Is there truly a new age about to emerge - or that has emerged without our realising it? Indeed, there is more disruptive creativity and innovation going on today than at any other time in history.

Creativity is when an entire new reality is brought into existence. It is a platform on which others can then develop innovations. A good example is M-Pesa in Kenya. That was a creative breakthrough because there was nothing like it before it and on that platform numerous innovations have emerged. People have built businesses that ride solely on the M-Pesa platform. So the world has a lot of innovations and once in a while when a new creative breakthrough emerges, it takes the world by storm because it threatens to disrupt everything we once knew. One such breakthrough is ChatGPT.

For 24 years, Google has dominated the world of search and its reign was not threatened by anyone. There were 17 search engines before Google and yet Google went straight to the top. However, a revolution that would get everyone talking was about to be born: ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched on November 30, 2022.

Now some might ask what ChatGPT does. I think the key question should be, what doesn’t it do? It is like having the most experienced and enlightened personal assistant ever.

Infinite possibilities


Tales of what people have asked of ChatGPT are mind boggling, from asking it to write codes, fix bugs in codes, to writing assignments or essays. It has been used to write the code for an app and create the marketing strategy for the app. It has passed exams from law and business schools in equal measure. It has written out entire recipes for foods from every part of the globe.

A popular example from Twitter shows someone asking the bot to write a biblical verse explaining how to remove a peanut butter sandwich from a VCR. The answer was stellar. It read like a chapter from the Bible complete with the King James language.

I asked it to write a defence for someone caught stealing but who did it because he was jobless and hungry. Its response started this: “While stealing is a crime and should not be condoned, it is important to consider the circumstances that led to the individual’s actions. If the person stole because they were jobless and hungry, it may indicate they were in a desperate situation and lacked basic necessities.”

Detailed defence

It then went on to give me a detailed defence. But, perhaps the icing on the cake was asking it to write a speech to a group of CEOs sounding like Wale Akinyemi. After a very warm introduction it went on to say, “In the words of Wale Akinyemi, ‘Innovation is not just about creativity, it is about creating value.’ It is not enough to simply come up with new ideas; you must also be able to implement them in a way that adds value to your organisation and your stakeholders. But innovation cannot happen in a vacuum. It requires collaboration, communication, and a willingness to take risks. As leaders, you must create a culture that fosters creativity and encourages your employees to think critically and outside the box.”

The argument a few years ago was whether robots would take over human jobs. Now we see artificial intelligence doing a great job of it and with ChatGPT, there is no limit to possibilities.

More than 77,000 workers in US-based tech companies have been laid off in mass job cuts so far in 2023.

If ever there was a time to reskill and position for change it is now. We saw the future coming, talked and wrote about it. Won’t it be a disaster if we became victims of that future?

Whatever position you hold today, rethink your relevance, reimagine your function, subject your imagination to testing and then prepare for what you have imagined.

Wale Akinyemi is the founder of the Street University [email protected]