The Unseen Treadmill

The weekend stretched out before me as I sat there, my laptop humming softly, wearing comfy slippers, in my pajamas, and cradling a cup of coffee, pondering… I heard that I could install large language models on my PC at home. How easy could that be?

I mean Generative Predictive Text models all running smoothly without an internet connection, sitting on my hard disk… it was mighty tempting and as promised, surprisingly easy to do.

And it was not just one model, but many… Wizard, Llama, Hermes, Orca, Groovy, Snoozy… all starting to sound like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs… all we needed was a Doc.

No Doc, although, there was a model called Samantha… reportedly built for human interaction, with “training in philosophy, psychology, and personal relationships”. Now ‘she’ did do a passable impression of a therapist… and indeed, after 30 minutes ‘in the chair,’ I did feel better about myself (being asked questions as a customer with vulnerabilities), although admittedly that might have been the coffee kicking in.

My conclusion was that for all the talk of restricting AI and technology… the cat is out of the bag, and undoubtedly, there is no way of putting it back in… it won’t be long before it’s on our phones and in our pockets.

The AI Epoch: Before 2023 and After 2023

This entire field of artificial intelligence has developed at a staggering pace. In preparation for the Credit & Collections Technology Think Tank and events in November/December, I have been reviewing how the headlines have changed over the last year.

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There seems to be an increasingly evident divide – before and after ChatGPT. Last year, we hardly heard much about AI… I mean, maybe for those of us in the know… but more niche… But now we have, AI assistants on Snapchat, DJs on Spotify, and my own personal language tutor… it won’t be long before we have 24/7 customer assistance and support. It is fascinating and somewhat unsettling.

The Accelerated Pace of Change

Yet, this isn’t just about the technological change; it’s also about the speed at which it’s all happening.

Within a lifetime, our lifetime, we can remember a slower pace of life… travelling to a meeting, needing to go to the bank, or reading the paper. (And I’m not even going to mention carbon copy memos or Lotus 123 for fear of appearing truly ancient.)

Looking back further, humans used to get up at dawn and travel by foot… compared to that, our world is really operating at breakneck speed…

Stress and Anxiety in the Fast Lane

Now, at this point let’s be honest; we all love a bit of speed; it’s exhilarating, and with a little adrenaline, it gets the blood pumping – thinking about taking off in an airplane, for example.

Yet too much, uncontrolled, it can be perilous…. and once it’s all over, you feel utterly drained.

So in this perpetual chase, a relentless pursuit and adoption of the next thing, are we moving too fast for our biology?

Is this, in part, contributing to our higher levels of stress and anxiety? (Especially when you consider that much of the world just had a nearly two-year slowdown)

It can all feel like an invisible treadmill. Falling even slightly behind can make you lose your sense of mastery, triggering the hide, flight or fight response… Is this acceleration, and the lack of time, at the core of our collective anxiety and stress? Maybe

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AI Can Help – But Only if We Allow It

Yet as much we may be reacting to this speed of change, how we deal with it also matters greatly.

And as with all technological advances, throughout history, we essentially have two choices (with the third, smash the technology and go back to living in the past ruled out for needing to finish my Netflix series reasons!).. so

  • Do we harness the new technology, use it to simplify our lives, and focus on what we enjoy and excel at… or
  • Harness the new technology to churn out more of the same at a higher speed.

… quality or quantity (just like data and information!)

Sadly, I fear history points us, like lemmings to a cliff, in relentless competition to fill our day with more work, more output, and more stuff.

However, the wise among us will be building better work, better output, and better stuff… and these will be the people shaping the future, who can take the time for coffee and maybe even a leisurely walk to work.

AI can help, but only if we make the right choices on how this is used… Have a fantastic week, everyone.


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