Back when I was a journalist, I interviewed a subject who, towards the end of our conversation, turned the tables and asked me a question.
“Do you think the internet will kill journalism?”
It was 2006 and I worked in print media. The publications I wrote for—all ink on paper. Sure, I had been developing websites for several years at that point and had taken courses in web development (anyone remember Flash?), but digital media was still in its infancy. While a few major players seemed to figure it out, most of the space hadn’t gotten its legs. Wonky websites dominated the landscape and nascent outlets were mostly repackaging work from mainstream media. The landscape wasn’t incredibly threatening.
Given the situation, I confidently said that there would always be a place for print journalism.
Three years later, half of the publications I worked for shuttered their doors—all crushed by online media.
The ChatGPT debate—the extent to which we should use generative artificial intelligence (AI) to produce text-based and other works—reminds me a lot of that time and the debates about intellectual property, impact on industries, and the qualitative import of a lightning-fast medium.
Within a heartbeat of ChatGPT being released, we saw concerns about its use in legal decisions, the potential for accidental NDA violations, and how it undermines the scientific peer review process. ChatGPT has already been banned by universities, raised concerns about data privacy, and has some calling for an outright pause on its use and development. What is clear is that, much like digital media, generative AI ushers in a host of complex issues that merit thoughtful consideration.
Regardless of what you think of generative AI, the genie is out of the bottle. Much like digital media in 2006, it is likely that generative AI tools, like Chat GPT, are here to stay. You probably already know someone who is using ChatGPT to research market trends, write code, or put together a business report. That use will only become more widespread as generative AI tools become more refined.
Will AI make your job obsolete? The answer is unclear. What is certain is that, outside of an outright ban on chatbots like ChatGPT, there will be a period of adaptation as businesses and individuals assess its real-world applications and how to implement them. Like the digital shift in media, the integration of generative AI into the business world will be filled with debates, false starts, and experimentation until a new normal surfaces. But given the rapid pace of advancement, I’d expect that new normal sooner than later.