To understand the significance of AI and what these new tools signify for our future we can start by examining the past. Our history is punctuated with moments when powerful new tools significantly extended our human capabilities. Each time this happened, it birthed new human eras. From hunter-gatherers to agriculture, from the industrial to the information age - each era can be traced back to powerful new tools that changed existence.
Today, we are standing on the precipice of another new human age: one defined by AI.
We're embarking on a new curve as a species. New levels of accessible intelligence will radically redefine every aspect of society. Just as in past pivotal moments of human history, the change will be complex and messy - life will be impacted in both positive and negative ways. No industry will remain untouched.
In our domain of product design alone, we’re witnessing an explosion of new AI tools. Those debuting now are powerful but, to appropriate Scott Cook, “We’re still in the first minutes of the first day of the AI revolution”. We will look back on the AI launching today like we currently look back on Microsoft Paint. We can expect exponentially more powerful tools to arrive at increasing speed, each with the functional capabilities to redefine our industry and the way we work.
What does this level of intelligence in new tools mean for us? What does it mean for our industry? Does AI have the ability to ultimately replace us, or will something else happen?
When faced with big questions like these, it's easy to assume that someone else out there is better positioned to answer them. The truth is that, right now, there isn't. Those who shape the future often don’t have the traditional qualifications or the background to do so – they simply choose to lean in and start asking questions. I'm choosing to lean in, not only because AI will impact the rest of my career, but also because AI-powered experiences will shape every aspect of my children’s futures.
AI has the potential to advance society, but it could also stifle it. To maximize everything that makes us great as human beings, but also to magnify everything that doesn't. For those of us involved, we have both the opportunity and responsibility to ask ourselves what kind of human futures we envision. Then, we must lean in to ensure we shape it.