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ChatGPT: The Next Big Thing or Overhyped?

I've seen and read some comments and posts criticizing ChatGPT as just the latest overhyped tech. They point to the early days of Virtual Reality (VR) and Bitcoin, which were also heavily hyped and generated a lot of media attention. I can see where they are coming from.

On the surface there are some similarities. These previous technologies did have a massive amount of hype around them. They were on the news all the time. Grandpa was asking about VR at the family party and even people who weren't into tech became crypto influencers pushing others to follow their lead. It does feel familiar ... but this isn't that. ChatGPT is not a fad that will fizzle into a niche use by a small percentage of the population like VR and Bitcoin. Here's why: VR is not easily accessible to the masses. It requires an expensive headset, a game platform, high-speed internet, and the ability to buy and learn games. What if you don't like games? What if you cannot afford the headset? Then you are out of luck. And Bitcoin? Still nowhere close to adoption by any meaningful number of people. The biggest use so far has been as an investment tool to make money buying and selling it like a stock. And from a technical standpoint it is still not easy to buy and use Bitcoin. It's certainly not mainstream or accessible to most people.

Now let's take a look at ChatGPT. On the surface, the most obvious comparison is mainstream adoption. This photo below illustrates that; in two months ChatGPT has amassed 100 million monthly users.

It took Spotify almost six years to amass that many users. Why so much less time for ChatGPT? Well, like Spotify, it's free, easy to use, easy to access and easy to understand. But the reason it's grown exponentially quicker beyond that, and the reason why it's not VR or Bitcoin, is because of the most important reason of all; there are a large number of valuable and immediate use cases. I'll share just three (there are many more) that I have personally come across to illustrate this:

1 - In one of my courses, the students are asked to create sales presentations for different technology types. Historically I give them some articles to read, we talk about it in class, and they head out to Google to do their own research from there and then return and report their findings and opinions. This is an entry level sales technology course, so they are not expected to have a solid grasp of the technologies they are researching. The students in my courses have learned to use ChatGPT as the starting point for their research instead of Google. The results from ChatGPT haven't been gamed by SEO and they are easy to read and digest quickly and they are the best "answers" I have seen on these topics in years. While some I know have griped about the poor quality or inaccuracy of ChatGPT's responses, I have experienced this only in a few cases and never with the entry level stuff my students are using it for. The discussions with students have been of a much higher level of learning and quality than I've seen before, and it's universal across all of my classes and with pretty much all of my students. Their learning outcomes have immediately improved. 2 - In another course I teach, students are asked to come up with some ideas for a website they can build a basic page around so that we can use it to drive traffic, setup analytics and so on. Historically students have had a tough time coming up with ideas and a tougher time getting the website looking good enough to help them get traffic they can measure. It's also difficult for them initially to understand how it all works together. By spending time with them inside of ChatGPT and some AI website building tools, they are producing very high quality, no-code websites and quickly. They are understanding easier and more efficiently how to integrate analytics. And they are coming up with much better ideas that are more easily suited to do these types of things. The results? Again, significantly better learning across the board. 3 - This post. Guess what? ChatGPT wrote 90% of it for me in under 60 seconds. I spent a few minutes editing it, putting it back into ChatGPT and editing it further ... but then it was pasted into here and published. Bet you didn't see that coming. Do you think there are other uses in the world like mine and this post? Yeah, maybe just a few. And this is just ChatGPT. Don't get me started (yet) on the creative uses I am seeing from the mad gold rush of AI startups when it comes to photos, videos and other creative content. The onslaught of innovation is here and the pace is going to continue to increase. Buckle up!

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