There is a concept we need to solidify that I will call the 90% Rule—until someone smarter than me comes up with a better name. The 90% Rule is simple: Generative AI will be able to do 90% of the work in areas that it is good at. Right now, that would be writing, but coming up soon will be image generation and coding and, not too long after that, video generation. For those of you buried in the space who are offended, I’m not rating it as advanced as it is for specialists; the point of generative AI is not to let AI specialists do things, but to let average people in the space do so. And that list is representative of the current space.
This is just based upon the state of things at the moment I wrote this blog, but that seems to be the immediate order. I’m only talking generative AI here—AI for things like filtering test results is a completely different beast (that might just meet that 90% rule … Hmmm). I can tell generative AI to write a story, a script or code for me, and tweak the results. The amount of tweaking certainly depends on the topic and how much time I spent zeroing it in, but 90% seems right. There are those looking far ahead to a time that will herald the arrival of our AI overlords, but for the foreseeable future, we will not be ditching authors, coders and ops people. Our jobs will just change.
Crikey—given the last few decades, a change to our jobs that means less work is not a terrible thing. Today, writers have to be publishers and marketers, coders have to be ops and ops have to be coders and the entire group has increasingly had to be security and architecture specialists, too.
Let’s celebrate a tool that says, “Here’s a start, make it useful in your specific situation.” I know I will. I sometimes contract people to do initial research for me and send me links and short descriptions. I encourage them to use generative AI to do so. I do not contract people with my level of knowledge for this work, so they’re going to have things I need to read carefully and follow the links for—they’re not specialists, after all. Generative AI suffers from this syndrome, too, but that means there is no difference for me and they can work smarter, not harder. It’s not like they are writing content; merely providing introductory research through a scan of web properties.
As time goes on, I expect they will become specialists. But not in the things I pay them to research—in making generative AI do what they want. I would argue the person I contract with the most often is better than me at it, just because she’s doing it regularly. That skill set will inevitably be transferrable, and I may lose her to a full-time position making the I in generative AI actually mean something, and I’m great with that. Meanwhile, I’m getting the background info I need to do my job(s).
Embrace it. Aim for 90%. Turn out even more rockstar-level apps for the org, and maintain them with less effort. This is where we’re headed, and it’s entirely possible you’ll be less buried in work for some of that time. Win/win. Go out and enjoy. The business will thank you for being even more productive … then waste that extra time you created by implementing new projects. But that’s in the future; use AI in the short term to get some breathing room and still be the force behind the apps.