Assessing the Potential of ChatGPT: Lessons from the History of Innovation

[Version in French here]

Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the past few weeks, you couldn’t escape news about ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence tool that answers all your questions: summarizing an article, informing you about the economic crisis, writing a poem, etc. As with any new technology, it is presented as revolutionary by some and futile, useless, or even dangerous by others. While it will take time for the dust to settle, we can nevertheless avoid some of the pitfalls, and above all, the clear-cut positions, by relying on the history of innovation, which offers at least seven lessons for a more nuanced approach to the debate.


Why Holding a Disruptive Technology to a Standard of Perfection is a Mistake

Technology expert Erik Brynjolfsson once remarked about artificial intelligence (AI) that we tend to hold it to a standard of perfection and therefore can be pessimistic about its prospects. This is a very common mistake with any disruptive technology. In fact, it is not so much that we hold disruptive technologies to a standard of perfection, but that we judge their performance against the dominant criteria of existing technology. Let’s explore this and see why it matters and how it leads to disaster.