Everything will be the same but different

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 15th May 2024

As I was driving to the shops, I wound down the window, and then thought what an antiquated phrase that now is. We don’t wind down the window anymore, we press a button, and a motor lowers it for us. Likewise, we don’t hang up the phone anymore, we press a button and the call ends. If I asked my son to rewind the song we just listened to, while he might know what I meant, he would have no real frame of reference for rewinding the magnetic tape in a 1980’s era cassette. These phrases are redundant now, but they still hold meaning for our generation. 

As technology evolved, everything changed. But it kind of stayed the same as well. We still have windows in our cars and we still need to open and close them. The motor just does it more efficiently than the winding handle we used to use. We still talk to people on a phone, we just don’t need to hang the receiver on a hook to end the call, or indeed be tied to a cable connected to the wall. We still replay songs and podcasts, but the ‘rewind’ is digital rather than physical. 

We are hearing a lot about the next big revolution – that of AI, and how it is going to change how we work forever. I have no doubt it will, and I am excited about the efficiencies it will bring, and the increase to the quality of our work. But I reckon, whilst everything will change, everything will still be kind of the same when it comes to getting our work organised, prioritised and executed.  

A recent article I read in the Harvard Business Review cited a research study undertaken by Boston Consulting Group which found that users of ChatGPT completed tasks 25.1% faster with 40% higher quality than those that did not in the study. This increase in performance was most notable for certain types of activities, but in some cases ChatGPT made things worse. 

This indicates to me that we are not going to lose our jobs just yet to AI. It will enhance our ability to get things done, and the quality of our output, but we will still need to organise and do the work. Just like while the motor in my car door makes my life easier, I still need to decide to open the window, and press a button to do it. 

I am watching the AI space carefully, and thinking about the implications for how we organise, prioritise and execute our work in the future. Right now though, I have shopping to unpack. Now, where is my robo-servant when I need it? 

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