Stephen Redwood explores the role of AI in today’s media landscape and how, now more than ever, the talk and walk of leaders within organizations is critical in building and sustaining trust.
AI AND CHATGPT3 HAVE RUNG THE WARNING BELLS – YOU MAY DELAY, BUT TIME WILL NOT
According to analysis by Statista in 2021 the average time spent per day on digital media in the US was eight hours and five minutes. That’s an astonishing third of a day or half the time available to anyone who aspires to the recommended eight hours of sleep. Now add to that the volume of incoming during a working day at the office (home based or not) and it’s hard not to wonder at the slim pickings of time available to actively think, rather than passively receive.
So, at the risk of saying the absolutely obvious, we note that people today spend more time in and around their digital environments than they do in physical reality and, as already noted, if you take out sleep time almost all our time is spent in a context that is essentially symbolic.
Back in the 1980’s and 90’s the media theorist Friedrich Kittler described how the symbolic nature of media, by translating words and images into ideas and memes, influences how individuals and groups behave. In the real world, what we think of as “normal” behavior is a social consensus based on things like culture, history and language, and denominated in symbols. But now, bearing in mind the volume of “screen” time in the average day, that real world is dominated by the prolific constructs and symbols that are received via digital media. The impacts on how people behave as a result of this are a big deal.
And now, despite the predictions of sci-fi writers and filmmakers over the decades, the rest of us are only just waking up to the reality of a warp factor acceleration of this phenomenon (see chart below). Artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT show the potential to overwhelm us with content that will increasingly be produced by software algorithms, much of which will be misleading at best or completely fake at worst. The billion-dollar sums with which Microsoft is currently looking to expand its investments in OpenAI are not a casual bet that they are placing. They can see the beginning of a revolution that, as RP Eddy and Richard Clarke identified in their recent book Warnings, is one of three massive disruptions over the next 30 years (along with the energy and genetic revolutions).
THE DIGITAL UNIVERSE HAS COMPROMISED CORPORATE IMMUNE SYSTEMS
Now translate that context to the world of work. Back before social media this symbolic reality moved relatively slowly. The ability to manage the memes percolating like a beneficial virus through organizations, although still difficult to manage, progressed at a more leisurely pace.
Today, with the combination of ever-present devices, and a tight oligopoly of global social media firms whose social graphs define groups by their common loves and hates, the speed of change in the ecosystem of meaning is swift. A virulent virus has overcome corporate immune systems and for company leaders this presents a massive change in their ability to control the messages and memes that shape employee behaviors.
Organizations have gone from relatively self-contained to fully porous entities as far as digital media are concerned, weakening the organizational immune systems by diluting the internally controllable in a flood of externally uncontrollable symbols.
The recent shift of norms around work-from-home versus hybrid versus office-based are a case in point. Debate was preempted by an external shock (the pandemic), followed by a huge viral flood of memes across digital and analog media reinforcing new norms about how the world of work was changing forever.
Key points include:
- The reach of truth and falsehoods
- Effective leadership teams
- Building an organizational trust bank
Read the full article, Is Your Corporate System Ready for ChatGPT3?, on RedwoodAdvisory.com.