For several months, artificial intelligence (AI) has been on everyone’s lips. Many companies have taken advantage of this period to communicate about this technology, just under a year after the emergence of ChatGPT, the flagship of OpenAI’s generative AI. During its annual conference in early October, American company Meta sparked significant interest by unveiling its new chatbot MetaAI and the AI avatars of celebrities like MrBeast and Snoop Dogg.
At a time when American giants like Google, Microsoft, and Meta are investing billions, Europe too is starting to follow suit. According to French billionaire Xavier Niel, owner of technology group Iliad, many European companies are seeking to create a “European AI champion”. Notably, Niel’s company recently invested in Mistral.ai, a French startup that aims to compete with OpenAI.
We’re seeing this approach throughout the European market, as AI emerges as a new paradigm around which both private and public sector players, who make up the economic fabric of our society, are rallying.
AI: an old concept but a recent breakthrough
Mathematician Alan Turing posed the question, “Can machines think?” in the middle of the 20th century. Less than fifty years later, the verdict was in: the supercomputer Deep Blue triumphed over world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a match as contested as it was historic. Since then, AI has continued its relentless march towards progress. While AI is actually an old concept, the real revolution lies in the emergence of generative AIs.
Indeed, the emergence of generative AIs at the close of 2022 signifies a pivotal moment in history. Just look at its adoption rate: it took only five days for ChatGPT to attract one million users, and the 100 million mark was crossed within three months, about ten times faster than Instagram.
ChatGPT’s popularity can be explained in two words: accessibility and interactivity. First of all, it is accessible because it is a free technology, it does not require technical skills or specific equipment. But it is indeed its interactive nature that marks a real turning point: we interact with AI in our own language, and it responds by producing content which we thought only humans capable of.
We interact with the machine, not in a series of 0s and 1s, but directly with what Descartes considers to be “the proper character of man,” that is, language. This is where the true revolution lies!
Beyond the explosion of its popularity, and perhaps even more impressive, is the performance gap between ChatGPT 3 and ChatGPT 4, the latest version being able to handle very long requests, dealing with texts of more than 25,000 words.
Infinite transformative potential
The initial reflection of AI’s transformative potential is most evident within the economic and corporate sectors. Endowed with formidable computing capabilities, it is able to significantly accelerate the very high-frequency processing of billions of digitized information, to generate almost instantaneously responses to complex questions or even visuals based on a prompt. These generative capabilities greatly improve productivity, promising time and economic gains for businesses.
Several studies have already demonstrated that the use of generative AIs, in their simplest form and most basic application, allows for weekly time savings of around 10% through the automation of routine tasks: writing a job description, verifying data on an Excel spreadsheet, etc. The latest estimates agree on productivity gains of up to 30%, while also making financial transactions more accessible and secure.
However, we must keep in mind that this technology is built on an iterative process, that is, arising from the repetition of failures and successes that help determine its areas for improvement. In reality, the current developmental stage of AI, characterized by its relative immaturity, calls for a cautious approach when considering its long-term effects.
Generative AI: business cornerstone or stumbling block?
AI has already made its breakthrough and there’s no reversing this trend. Undoubtedly, AI has become a fundamental part of our reality and a critical tool for the future of businesses. In light of this transformation, companies face what seems like a choice, but actually, failing to embrace AI equates to risking obsolescence. Those unable to adapt may find themselves left behind, surpassed by competitors who successfully integrate AI into their operations.
The transformative challenge of AI, therefore, rests on a human issue: to support and train the various stakeholders of a company in integrating these tools. A recent study in Switzerland claims that 61% of respondents use AI programs in a professional context. But, more interestingly, 61% of those surveyed state that their company does not have guidelines for using AI. For 24% of the respondents, the use of AI is even prohibited at the workplace.
It is absolutely clear that generative AI is destined to become a tool massively used by the productive workforce, and it evidently already is. From this perspective, the future challenge for business growth lies in their ability to effectively integrate AI, not so much to gain a competitive advantage, but rather to not miss the train. Beware those who remain on the platform! Faced with this new challenge, companies and business leaders can rely on specialized consulting firms to guide them.