88’s 101 on Generative AI

 -  4 min read

Our Creative Technology team recently hosted a beer-and-learn seminar for the entire agency to discuss how generative artificial intelligence is shaping our everyday lives and the workplace—both the opportunities it offers and the challenges. This is the first of two articles based on that seminar that we’re sharing here.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is suddenly the hot topic everywhere, even though it’s been around for a while now. You know how Amazon and Netflix offer recommendations based on what you’ve ordered/watched before? This is predictive AI. It uses historical data (said orders and viewings) to make predictions and recommendations. 

What’s getting everyone’s attention now, though, is generative AI. This kind of AI creates entirely new content, such as text, images or videos.

A really basic example is the customer service chatbot. You’ve likely encountered them when seeking help on websites or on the phone. They’re designed not only to answer your questions, but to mimic human conversation through text or voice as they do. While not everyone likes interacting with chatbots, 20% of Gen Z consumers prefer to start with them.

Illustration generated using ChatGPT and Dall•E, based on the post content.

But how does AI do it? AI models are developed using machine learning: large amounts of data are fed into the model to enable it to learn patterns and associations. During training, the model adjusts its internal parameters, creating algorithms to optimize its performance on a given task.

Essentially, AI computer systems are capable of performing tasks that would normally require human intelligence: learning, reasoning, problem-solving and understanding natural language.

Several chatbots have emerged, including ChatGPT, Microsoft Copilot and Google Bard AI, with other large tech companies developing their in-house or public offerings. All products offer free and paid tiers that aim to assist the user in various tasks like writing a cover letter for a job,  generating imagery and debugging code, to name a few popular use cases.

Chatbots are designed to make conversational interaction between humans and machines seamless. Like a search engine, the power of the chatbot relies upon a concise query or prompt to ensure a well-developed and accurate response. Once you have an initial response, you can continue the chat session with the opportunity to clarify, refine or probe further into the results.

It’s common for people to feel intimidated by a technology that has incredibly complex programmatic underpinnings that promise so much. Much of the public felt the same way when search engines became popular. Searching for something across a global network seemed impossible at the time. Now, these services have become another tool they use without much thought of how it works.

Of course, AI continues to develop at a breathtaking pace, bringing new opportunities and challenges with its growth. In our next article, we’ll discuss AI and the workplace. Be sure to check back.