We’ve spent the last ~15 years digitizing our products:
- We slogged through company-wide digital transformations to migrate data and turn manual processes to digital.
- We’ve climbed mountains of mobile design and development to satisfy users’ needs in a bigger way.
- And in the latest stretch of our journey, we’ve sanded our digital product experiences to minimize friction and delight users as much as possible.
Then, without warning this winter, a giant curtain dropped and revealed the next chapter of our products: it’s showtime for AI, baby.
It’s not that AI came out of nowhere; however, it was starting to feel like we were stuck on a plane that would never take off. But look at us now — flying down the runway!
There’s something different about this moment compared to other recent tech “fake-outs” like voice assistants, the metaverse, and Web3. They all promised to be game-changers, and I admit, I believed them. 🙃
- I walked around CES in 2019 and remarked, “voice assistants would transform UI!” — while not recognizing their relatively limited capabilities.
- I took a client out to dinner in 2021 and encouraged her to buckle up for the metaverse — completely ignoring the adoption challenge that lay ahead.
- I bought into the hype of Web3 and the Blockchain — even though I could never find a use case that could clearly communicate the decentralized value to non-tech friends.
Unlike those charlatans of the past, large language models (and ChatGPT in particular) have become the next big thing because they have awed us with their power. It feels like we have spent the past few months with our collective mouths agape, marveling at what ChatGPT can do.
AI is the next chapter for us, not because Zuck told us so, but because it has proven to be immediately useful, seamlessly integrating into our daily lives.
- The last sentence you read was clunky until ChatGPT helped me smooth it out.
- At a recent dinner party, my non-tech friend entertained us with a dramatic, martini-enhanced reading of ChatGPT’s legal writing.
- ChatGPT is breaking down language barriers for non-native speakers, allowing them to research and write confidently in a new language.
- Patients are turning to ChatGPT to quickly analyze their lab data and receive conclusions before their busy doctors can respond.
- Individuals who feel marginalized by society are finding comfort in ChatGPT’s non-judgmental daily affirmations.
The proof is in the pudding: ChatGPT’s has broken records with all-time fastest adoption rates.
And a surprising amount of big companies have already launched their ChatGPT partnerships/experiments/plugins.
Lastly, the economic implications of ChatGPT are already being felt. Just look at Chegg’s recent announcement that ChatGPT is slowing its ability to grow — cutting its stock in half.
Put simply, the transformers do be transforming.
I have to acknowledge, amongst all the hype, as a product designer, this is a weird moment. I’ve never felt so excited, unclear, and scared about technology — all at once.
- Exciting! The ChatGPT API is democratizing AI and opening up new possibilities for product design.
- Uncertain! As we embrace AI and large language models like ChatGPT, we enter uncharted territory where the long-term implications are impossible to predict. We don’t have the right metaphors, experience, or empirical evidence to analyze our situation.
- Scary! We learned through the social media era that we can’t trust Big Tech to prioritize our collective well-being over their profits. And the stakes are higher this time: half of AI scientists believe there is at least a 10% chance that this technology could result in humanity’s annihilation.
I must that this article is a cop out. I’m putting blinders on and focusing on immediate and tangible ways ChatGPT can enhance products.It’s overly pragmatic at a time when we need to focus on the bigger picture and potential consequences.
However! The first step in human-centered AI is to lead with people’s needs — not the technology — so let’s start here.
In the coming weeks, I promise to take the blinders off. I’d love for you to follow along on the journey.
ChatGPT is far from perfect. It hallucinates, struggles with complex tasks, and is painfully literal. But just like an intern or junior team member, with a little guidance and patience, it can take on five basic tasks.
Think of your product as having a built-in team of five helpers. (This metaphor is inspired by Ezra Klein’s recent AMA podcast.)
Allow me to introduce you:
I love working with skilled analysts. They dive into the data — unthwarted by messiness or complexity — and craft a perfectly clean picture on the other side.I’m not just talking about business here. It could be anyone who has a talent for simplifying vast complexity into clear outputs. For instance, that friend who always knows the best restaurants in town and can recommend the perfect three for your anniversary dinner.
I love working with an analyst because tromping through messy data is overwhelming! And, frankly, I much prefer what comes after the data has been distilled and organized.
As an analyst, ChatGPT, is really good at presenting clear nuggets from mounds of messy data. You wouldn’t want today’s ChatGPT to make final conclusions or decisions on its own, but it instantaneously provides you the foundation to take the next step.