In just four months since ChatGPT entered the world, its grip on the future of work can’t be overstated.
It has already attracted millions of users, been integrated into many businesses, and begun replacing job functions—and that’s before OpenAI released its latest, smartest fourth generation of the artificial intelligence chatbot, ChatGPT-4.
Yet there are still leaders and workers who remain equally skeptical and scared of the new tech.
In recruitment, some say it’s ridden with bias so will never match up to a hiring manager who has had the appropriate diversity training.
In the creative industries, some say it will never be able to write with the emotive capacity and flair of a human being.
Meanwhile, one CEO even told Fortune that clients and customers are so suspicious of it that it would lose him business.
“Anybody that’s doing something groundbreaking is going to face that,” says Evan Goldberg, the man behind the world’s first cloud software company, Oracle NetSuite.
People were once worried about what the cloud meant for the future
Looking back, Goldberg says that people reacted to the launch of cloud computing in a similar fashion to the mixture of frenzy, confusion, and denial we are witnessing as the world comes to terms with ChatGPT.
“I went to a party at Larry’s house [Larry Ellison, the business mogul, billionaire, and cofounder of Oracle] and Steve Jobs walked up to me and said, ‘Larry’s really excited about this accounting-in-a-browser thing. But does anyone want to do accounting in a browser?’” Goldberg recalls.
“If Steve Jobs had skepticism, you can imagine the rest of the world did!”
Goldberg claims he spent “years convincing people that it’s probably better for [NetSuite] to professionally manage your information in a data center where you need a handprint to get in” versus in a hard drive sitting on your desk that anyone can access. “It seems obvious in retrospect, but it was pushing a very large boulder up a very steep hill.”
Despite those initial fears, today most businesses and individuals use the cloud without a second thought whether it’s for file storage or for data security.
Goldberg’s words of advice for new-tech cynics
Indeed, as ChatGPT enters the workforce, certain job functions may evolve and, in some cases, cease to exist: Fortune’s research into how CEOs are implementing ChatGPT found that content generation, research, and general administrative work are already being conducted by the chatbot across many businesses.
“There’s no doubt there’s potential dislocation coming,” Goldberg agrees.
He suggests that leaders start thinking now about how they can use the bot in their business because soon you may be competing against other companies that have suddenly become more efficient by using it.
But don’t panic.
“I’m still not rating the robocalypse very high on my list of risk factors,” he says, shrugging.
Pointing to previous advancements like the inventions of the steam engine and the internet—while they probably seemed at the time as though they would have major consequences on workers and business—Goldberg draws optimism from the fact that “so far, none of these technologies have resulted in mass unemployment.”
“Human beings have found that they still have unique skills that are valuable, and have adapted.”