“Gradually. Then suddenly.” This response was uttered by Mike—an Ernest Hemingway character in his novel, The Sun Also Rises—in response to how he went bankrupt. Were the story written 100 years later, he might have been referring to artificial intelligence, which has gone from a distant inevitability on the fringe of commercial adoption to a ubiquitous reality in record time.
“Gradually” refers to the slow build from prediction to possibility. AI first entered the conversation in the 1950s, popularized by Alan Turing’s “imitation game” (now called a Turing test) to determine a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior. Importantly, this test did not judge a machine’s ability to answer correctly, but only if it answered as a human would. More on that below.
Computer scientist John McCarthy is credited with coining the “artificial intelligence” term in 1955 and organizing the 1956 Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence.
“Suddenly” might describe the last several months of turning AI’s vast possibility into commercial viability on a massive scale. In many ways, it mirrors the mobile and cloud revolutions of recent years while happening in a fraction of the time. In February, ChatGPT became the first tech application to reach 100 million unique users in its first two months. Its open-source coding makes it a tantalizing, plug-and-play addition to existing tech stacks, including CRM giant Salesforce Einstein, search engine Microsoft Bing and business insight tools like my company.
Cutting-edge innovation that affects a company’s bottom line is a rare opportunity to align the C-suite with IT and operations. Throw in a tightening economy and the fact that generative AI can be self-improving, and early adopters have the opportunity for a permanent commercial advantage.
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