“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked. “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.” That’s from Ernest Hemingway, in his 1926 breakthrough novel, The Sun Also Rises.
Maybe you prefer, the boxer Mohammed Ali who said, “It took me 19 years to become an overnight success.”
But since I’m painfully aware that some of the memes that I quote were said before the “memes” became what we used to call a “thing” – let me try something more up to date as an example.
Jeff Bezos, said, “All overnight success takes 10 years.” Or maybe it’s better the way Steve Jobs said it, “If you look really closely most overnight successes took a long time.
What on earth am I talking about? I’m referring to the idea that most of us in technology are aware of individuals, but regularly forget as a group.
When we see a piece of technology that suddenly gets an explosion of interest – goes “viral” and we think, wow!
But nothing appears overnight.
For everything technology that captures our attention, there has been experimentation, development and even some trial and error.
There’s even a name for the model of how technology comes into use – it’s called the “Hype Cycle.” Most of us have at one point seen Gartner’s famous model of how technology gets adopted.
It starts with with early work and a rudimentary product with great promise that captures our attention. While it’s still short on features or performance we become blinded to the current early state of development, focused instead on what it will be. As a result the new tech marvel becomes overhyped. It can’t possibly deliver the huge expectations, at least not initially.
There are inevitable early failures and some hard lessons learned about how to properly harness this potential. We forget all of the change that has to happen in our organizations to make it work and how difficult it is to change people, processes and sometimes entire organizations. When the magic transformation fails to happen, the new technology falls into what some have called the valley of despair.
Yet eventually, if there is a real basis to the promise of this new technology, it will develop. Equally important, more realistic expectations are set, and there is eventual and gradual progress. These survivors grow to fulfil and sometimes even exceed their initial promise.
When we understand that model, we can have a realistic and useful discussion, independent of the hype and noise.
That’s the problem with all the hype around AI and ChatGPT. It ignores the fact that this is not new – what we are seeing is decades of evolution of AIT, some of which is already in use in banks, medicine and other key industrial uses.
While the new transformer, large language models have generated hype, this gets in the way of concrete discussions about how this AI can be used, and can be used in commercial settings. So while the expectations are being over-hyped and the inevitable disappointments are around the corner, let’s take the exit ramp and have a discussion with someone who has been actually implementing AI solutions in the real world.
My guest this weekend is Diane Gutiw, a Vice President with CGI, one of Canada’s leading technology consulting companies. Diane specialty is as a leading consultant to business in the use of AI. Join us for for this no-hype discussion of AI in this edition of Hashtag Trending, the Weekend Edition.
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