The End of Mastery

I love to think about the potential of generative AI. But the realist in me can’t stop thinking about the brave new world we might be about to enter into. Specifically, the implications of generative AI tools like GPT-3/4 and DALL-E on human mastery.

Generative AI can already take a prompt similar to a search engine query and return content that rivals experts in many different fields. This alone completely subverts our current understanding of mastery.

Right now, instead of working for thousands of hours to master a new field, we can use a tool that works as a shortcut to the goal. Skills that were once valuable – such as acedemic pursuits, writing, teaching, and even law – are easily simulated with software.

Why spend years honing a craft or unique style when software like DALL-E, Midjourney, and others can be prompted to create any style of art, music, or text?

In a world where mastery is cheap, people will be disincentivised to practice and acquire skills. Future generations might be less motivated to understand the underlying principles of their field. Instead they will rely on software as the shortest path to creation.

And if mastery is no longer worthwhile, where will the visionaries come from to move a field forward? Innovation requires a deep intuitive understanding of a domain, and if humans aren’t motivated to acquire this understanding, progress will stall.

Furthermore, in a world without progress, where will the new materials used to train the next generation of AI systems come from? It seems that the answer might be more AI-generated content. Leading to a feedback loop of AI training AI with no extrinsic evolution.

In closing, let’s ask GPT-4 for its opinion on the problems raised in this article:

While the rapid advancement of generative AI tools like GPT-3/4 and DALL-E raises valid concerns, it also presents an opportunity for humanity to redefine mastery and creativity. By embracing these tools, we can enhance our problem-solving abilities, foster collaboration between humans and AI, and unlock new avenues of innovation. By leveraging AI as an extension of human ingenuity, we can combine our unique insights with AI-generated content, allowing us to tap into a broader range of ideas and experiences. Ultimately, this synergy could lead to a more diverse and enriched understanding of the world, empowering future generations to push the boundaries of human knowledge and drive progress forward in unprecedented ways.

– OpenAi GPT-4