Is it me?

By Anita Jaynes on 28 March, 2023

TBE Partnership with Thrings

Over the years, John Davies’ Is it me? has become a favourite of The Business Exchange for its wit and camaraderie. This time, John talks tech.

I’m always a little sceptical of new technologies. Some people dive in and embrace the next ‘new thing’ with neck-breaking immediacy but I’ve always been one of those people who take a little longer before jumping on board.

Perhaps that’s why I’m a lawyer. A little bit cautious or suspicious maybe… There are various examples of this. I was reluctant to give my Blackberry up for a much cleverer smart phone and was one of the last people in my social or work groups to fire up a smart speaker at home. I was slow to embrace contactless payment and the witchcraft of simply tapping my debit card or phone to pay for things and, even now, I’m still a little shy when it comes to internet banking. 

I think it’s because I’ve always liked people and I’ve always liked the tangible. The cloud is a remarkable place of storage, but I do take comfort from seeing and feeling things. A plane ticket or a rugby or concert ticket printed on paper comes with a certain sense of security for me and I’ve found the switch to electronic formats a little scary on occasions. But I tend to get there in the end – much to the amusement of my friends.

That said, there is currently one thing in particular at the moment that is both fascinating me and perplexing me in equal measure. The rise of AI, and in particular Generative Pre-trained Transformer technology (GTP). 

I’m sure you’re all ahead of me on this but I’m thinking of things like ChatGTP – this seemingly nebulous portal where you plug in a prompt, thought or question, and you get a human-like response. It could be an answer, an essay, an article, a poem – all composed artificially from the digital world. It’s a little unnerving for a child of the 1970s and 1980s who grew up watching films like The Terminator or 2001 A Space Odyssey. 

Does anyone else remember Skynet or HAL 9000? I do – the rise of the machines and the fall of mankind cometh!

Well look, I know I’m sounding like a throwback to the dark ages here and in all honesty, I’m not overly concerned about succumbing to engineered overlords, but I am a little worried about ‘soul’, or the potential of losing it. 

What happens to creativity when AI does it for you? Where is the genuine tenderness, or turmoil or love in the story or the poem if it hasn’t come from the heart? Where is the genuine mystery and nuance in the thriller if it hasn’t come from the brain? Is it still there? Can it be there? Could we tell either way? 

And what about short cuts, or cheating, or caring less – might these be by-products of the AI revolution? I genuinely don’t know and I’m probably overreacting, or under embracing, depending on which way you look at it. What do you think folks? Is it me, or am I alone in thinking that Sarah Connor may have had a point? 

P.S. Did I even write this?

John Davies, 
Senior Corporate Partner, Thrings


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