AI Has Evolved. Have We?

AI is rapidly evolving, but are we keeping pace? Experts say we need a co-intelligent approach and better AI understanding to thrive in an AI-driven future.
futurework-ai-has-evolved-have-we
Daan van Rossum
Daan van Rossum
Founder & CEO, FlexOS
I founded FlexOS because I believe in a happier future of work. I write and host "Future Work," I'm a 2024 LinkedIn Top Voice, and was featured in the NYT, HBR, Economist, CNBC, Insider, and FastCo.
May 23, 2024
5
min read

AI is moving fast.

The past week has been a particularly busy one. OpenAI’s ChatGPT 4o announcement, Google’s Gemini news, and Microsoft’s AI laptops left us all feeling overwhelmed.

As the technology continues to improve at high velocity, there’s a question I’m pondering: 

“It’s clear AI is evolving. But are we?”

Are We Falling Behind?

In the Lead with AI course, I posit that “AI time management” tools like Reclaim, Clockwise, and Motion help you get significantly more out of your time.

This means relinquishing some control over your calendar to AI, similar to trusting a human executive assistant. 

I’ve gotten very comfortable with this, but not everyone agreed. 

Helena Turpin, cofounder of talent marketplace goFIGR, asked, “Can we really let AI decide between a critical client meeting and time blocked to create an urgent deliverable?”

I asked Reclaim’s Henry Shapiro if this is a common objection. He explained that while the concept of AI managing your calendar may seem daunting, platforms like his are designed to balance impact and control:

“The AI follows your preferences to avoid a “black box.” It’s the rules your calendar already uses, just more automated, flexible, and intelligent. You decide which tradeoffs it makes. Anytime you want, you can take back control by moving events or changing them.” – Henry Shapiro, founder and CEO, Reclaim AI

While Henry’s explanation may alleviate fears of AI making undesirable decisions, this discussion points out that while AI has evolved tremendously, we may not be catching up.

We Need to Evolve, Too.

In an upcoming interview with my favorite AI expert, Dr. Alexandra Samuel, she mentions that we must change our AI approach.

She recounts a story where working with AI took her hours. While frustratingly long, it taught her that we still need to learn how to leverage AI best, but also, that we should rethink our role. 

“We forget that these aren't gumball machines where you're trying to drop in a quarter and get the best prize. I love Ethan Mollick's notion of a “co-intelligence.” And the co means we change too. We evolve too.” – Dr. Alexandra Samuel.

As she shares, the process of working with AI and the learnings we gain from it are as valuable as its outputs. 

We must think differently about the relationship between us, the tools, and our work. 

And that rethink can be a tough one, as Ethan Mollick himself notes in the Financial Times:

“When faced with AI-written content that replicates their work, some employees may even face a crisis of meaning about the nature and value of their contributions.” –  Ethan Mollick, Wharton professor and author of Co-Intelligence.

Getting Better at Understanding AI’s Strengths 

Few of us get the myriad ways AI can enrich our lives, from having a senior advisor available 24/7 to training AI employees on digital work. 

Ethan shared that the key is to treat AI as a fellow human, an employee, rather than a piece of software. This helps us better understand its capabilities and limitations, leading to more effective collaboration.

He offered a pragmatic approach during a fantastic webinar by Teamraderie about integrating AI into your organization:

"Invite AI into everything you do, and spend a lot of time with a frontier model (like GPT-4 or Copilot) for everything you ethically and legally can." – Ethan Mollick, professor at Wharton and author of Co-Intelligence.

In my experience, integrating AI into daily workflows can be seamless and highly effective. Invoking “GPTs”—mini-apps that live in ChatGPT—is as intuitive to me as asking a team member on Slack for help.

This true integration allows real-time collaboration and enhances productivity by automating routine tasks and providing instant insights.

In our course, I tell executives in plain terms that anything repetitive, structured, and digital should be partially offloaded to AI. 

The Human in the Loop

When we better understand our relationship with AI and a new way of working, we can more easily give up some of our current workload to AI. 

This doesn’t mean we let it run on autopilot, we’re calling it a “Co-Intelligence” and a “Co-Pilot” for a reason.

We need to give and take back control to and from AI, also known as being the ‘human in the loop.’

In the same webinar mentioned above, Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, stated:

“You need to be the human in the loop. You need to figure out what you’re good at. The AI is probably good at some of the things you already do in your job, probably stuff you hate. How do you get it to support what you do?” – Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft

His perspective highlights the importance of understanding our unique strengths and AI's complementary role.

Jared advises organizations to achieve a better AI-human partnership by teaching each employee to improve their delegation, prompting, and judgment skills. 

The Bottom Line: AI Has Been Upgraded. Have We?

To thrive in an AI-driven future, we must embrace these technologies as tools, collaborative partners, senior advisors, and team members. 

This requires continuous learning, adaptation, and a shift in how we view our roles and responsibilities and where we create value. 

Getting to AI's full potential means understanding what we’re uniquely good at and what the AI does best, and then finding harmony in who does what.

That may include giving up control in areas where AI already works faster and better, like continuously updating our schedule for the most critical tasks.

As I’ve spent considerable time understanding AI in relation to people and organizations, it’s becoming clear to me that this is as much, if not more, about change than it is about technology. 

As Ethan says in his Financial Times piece: "Our organisational structures are built around the idea that human workers are the only form of intelligence at work. That is no longer true." 

How about you? Where are you finding the boundaries between you and AI?

- Daan

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Future Work

A weekly column and podcast on the remote, hybrid, and AI-driven future of work. By FlexOS founder Daan van Rossum.