ChatGPT is at what Gartner calls the peak of inflated expectations. While it is at its peak, NFTs have already fallen off (yes, that’s you cryptomonkey, it’s crypto winter). So soon we’ll be falling into the big black hole of disillusionment for ChatGPT as well. Next up (or already down, it depends on who you ask): the metaverse.
And yes, you can hold me to these predictions in a few months’ time.
But some of the technologies that have already passed the through have found their niche and their value.
We humans tend to overestimate success of technology in the short term and underestimate success in the long term.
We’re not all wearing AR glasses all the time, but the Hololens is doing interesting things for specific business training cases. Just like VR is doing its thing in specific cases like healthcare. And those self-driving cars are doing fine in really specific use cases.
Enter Amara’s Law (or Gates Law, it depends on who you ask): we humans tend to overestimate success of technology in the short term and underestimate success in the long term.
‘Wait, but Vincent, you work in innovation and design, so how dare you say this? Aren’t you excited? Isn’t ChatGPT the industrial revolution of the 21st century and aren’t you happy you get to be part of it?’
Yes. And no.
I’m not advocating that all technology is stupid and that we’re better off in the stone age. On the contrary, no. There’s probably some transformative potential in any of these new technologies and right now in ChatGPT.
Progress is good. But what I do think is that any tech without meaningful value for people still sucks and that we still need to figure this out for a lot of current hypes.
Any tech without meaningful value for people still sucks
Most humans probably underestimated the Ford Model T, the internet, airplanes, mobile phones, vaccines and sliced bread. And look where it got us.
So what is the difference here? What they have in common is that they really delivered value for humans. From connecting people across distances to making life easier and from curing diseases to simplifying breakfast.
But it’s real human value.
Build sh*t people want
This is where the unofficial motto of probably every designer ever comes in: build sh*t that people want. Or, in other words: build things that help people get meaningful things done and that add real value.
So what will this be for ChatGPT? Helping people with mundane tasks be more efficient? Providing people easier access to information? Taking over all jobs so we can finally relax on the beach? Probably some of them yes, but not all of them.
In other words: build things that help people get meaningful things done and that add real value.
We need to look for the real, underlying jobs that technology helps people do. We need to judge any new tech (or any innovation really) on its merits. Yes, any new technology holds a lot of untapped potential. But technology for the sake of technology gets us nowhere.
And sometimes we just need to build things to figure out what people want because they don’t know what they want. As long as we build things that people actually want.