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AI Unleashed: seven takeaways

AI is the most hyped topic of the year. James Evelegh attended a recent event, organised by New Scientist, to learn more about it.

By James Evelegh

AI Unleashed: seven takeaways

Last week, New Scientist launched a new B2B offering, a series of business insights events. The first event – ‘AI Unleashed: revolutionising the future of your business’ – brought together a range of experts to discuss the opportunities and risks presented by artificial intelligence.

Here are seven takeaways:

  1. AI might not be new, but the democratisation of it brought about by the release of widely available and hugely powerful generative AI models is.
  2. Not all AI is generative and not all generative AI is ChatGPT. There are lots of versions of both and deciding which version is right for your business will take some thought.
  3. Whether AI replaces jobs, or simply augments them, we’re likely to soon be in a position where people who know how to use AI will replace those that don’t.
  4. Huge efficiency savings are possible. Legal firm Allen & Overy are using AI to expedite the drafting of legal documents. They are saving two hours per lawyer per week. They employ 3,700 lawyers…
  5. Generative AI is like an articulate and sneaky 13 year old. It will always have an answer and that is not necessarily a good thing. Its tendency to “hallucinate” shouldn’t be underestimated.
  6. ‘Prompt engineering’ is a rapidly evolving new discipline. How you phrase your prompt makes all the difference to the validity of the response.
  7. The best approach to getting started with AI is to open your mind. Ditch any preconceptions and start with a blank sheet of paper and … be imaginative. Start experimenting, expect initial failure, but persist.

While cognisant of the risks, the mood of the conference was upbeat. There was great excitement around the opportunities presented by AI, both for the profitability of businesses and also the wider good of humankind.

In his keynote address, Paul Scully, minister for tech and the digital economy, described AI as presenting “an enormous opportunity to break out of the shackles of ‘business as usual’.”

That’s got to be exciting.

PS. I will be writing a fuller review of the event for the Sep/Oct issue of InPublishing magazine. You can join the free mailing list by registering here.

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.