Everything Changes and Nothing Changes

Mar 29, 2023
Kate Walton

Hello from Steyer!

At the risk of alienating all of you, I’m going to talk about ChatGPT again.

In case you missed it: GPT-4, which was released two weeks ago to a limited number of paid subscribers, is already miles “smarter” than GPT-3.


A few gob-smacking examples:

  • GPT-4 not only passed the bar exam; it scored in the 90th percentile. ::hands smelling salts to the nearest lawyer::
  • Whereas GPT-3 could only digest text-based prompts, GPT-4 was able to create a working website based on a rough sketch.
  • When asked to pass a CAPTCHA to prove it was not a robot, GPT-4 successfully hired a human via TaskRabbit and (wait—it gets weirder!) fashioned a lie to trick that human into doing what was needed.

This is all to say: it’s not hype. There are tantalizing positives and terrifying negatives for sure, but generative AI is not vaporware. Generative AI is here, and it will have at least as huge an impact on our lives and jobs as the PC or internet. (Bill Gates doesn’t go back to a day job for just anything.)

I’ve talked before about the job displacement that will inevitably occur and my hope that we as a society will install a robust set of social safety nets (alongside a reaaaally solid plan to avoid the singularity).

Today, I want to talk briefly about why, in the face of all this disruption, I remain bullish about Steyer, a company of 100+ humans making content for other humans. The short answer is that businesses thrive by meeting human needs, and—generation after generation—humans haven’t changed all that much.

We are all animated by a vexing mix of love and fear. We all contend with the indignities and infirmities of real-life bodies. If we are lucky, we grow old, and eventually we all die.

Not only does the inescapable fact of our mortality NOT repel us from one another; it bonds us. Disconnects among people abound at every level of course—but it is our shared humanity that continually nudges us to try to understand, and to begin to trust, one another.

I don’t see this changing, and in fact, as the cost of misinformation is driven to zero by AI, I think the issue of trust will only become bigger and more important. As this happens, I believe that humans will be drawn to—and remain most moved by—content that is conceived of and shaped by other humans.

At Steyer, I’m sure we’ll be using an ever-expanding array of tools including generative AI, but by not wholly surrendering our work to those tools—and by retaining a firm focus on looking after our clients, our consultants, and each other as people—I think we’ll continue to earn our keep.

What about you? What’s your strategy as this new day dawns?

Thanks for reading,

Photo composite by Kate Walton. (My late mother and me at roughly the same age. When I wrote that humans haven’t changed that much, generation after generation, these two images popped to mind. Please forgive the indulgence—I miss her.)