A few weeks ago I asked ChatGPT to write a 500-word article about the different types of batteries used in power tools. Since I’m very familiar with the topic, I was curious to see how ChatGPT would do. In a matter of seconds, ChatGPT generated a surprisingly good article, accurate and very well written (and not one word longer than 500).
My first thought was: those poor chaps writing website copy and search engine fodder at Fiverr for 10 dollars a piece better find another line of work. However, the implications of this technology go beyond just low-level copywriters. Highly paid professionals, like computer programmers or doctors, are also in the path of this disruptive technology.
It’s not hard to imagine a near future in which you can ask an AI to write a program in Python to tell you when to sell a certain stock, or to use an AI trained with the knowledge and experience of every doctor who ever lived to diagnose an illness based on a list of symptoms.
All this begs the question:
if getting answers to common questions is becoming a commodity at near-zero cost, what will become valuable?
Perhaps the best answer I’ve found comes from Kevin Kelly in his prophetic book The Inevitable, written in 2016. KK says: “When answers are free or easy, what becomes valuable are good questions”. He goes on to define what a good question is:
A good question…
- Is not concerned with a correct answer.
- Cannot be answered immediately.
- Challenges existing answers.
- Is one you badly want answered once you hear it, but had no inkling you cared before it was asked.
- Creates a new territory of thinking.
- Reframes its own answers.
- Is a seed for innovation in science, technology, art, politics and business.
- Is a probe, a what-if scenario.
- Skirts on the edges of what is known and not known, neither silly nor obvious.
- Cannot be predicted.
- Generates many other good questions.
Finally, KK concludes, asking good questions will be the sign of an educated mind. It will also be the last job a machine will learn how to do, and ultimately what humans are here for.