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Is it a superpower when everyone has a superpower?

Thoughts Oct 1, 2023

Large Language Models are everywhere. Whether this technology is considered "intelligence" or not, we all agree that this breakthrough will change our society, in one way or another.

When these models first made their appearance some called them "superpowers" for humans. They have conquered every task that has to do with text (and more of course). But is the ability to generate text considered a "superpower" when everyone in the world has access to this "superpower"? Superheroes are called that way because the rest of humanity does not possess super abilities.

Let me give you an example. Microsoft is embedding Co-pilot, and Google is integrating their DuetAI into their respective email services. Soon every email sender will be able to provide their 5 bullet points as input to these systems and get a full-text email as output. And then every recipient will be able to input a full-text email and get a 5 bullet-point summary. So how long until we all agree to cut the jabber and stick to the point? That is exchange emails using just bullet points. Why write long cover letters since everyone can generate one? Just write a 5-sentence letter that captures the essence.

I think in the (near?) future the long-text form of communication might be eradicated. This is a direct consequence of the abundance and easy access to these tools. Creating a well-written essay was used to show structure in the thought process and wealth of ideas. Now these "superpowers" can write you a better essay than 90% of people in a few seconds. Therefore, these forms of expression cannot distinguish you anymore from the crowd. It's the other way around actually; if for some reason you stay behind and don't learn to master these new "powers" you will be left behind for good.

Let me make it clear that I am not saying that LLMs are useless just because they are available to everyone. These models have so many applications beyond the "write me a text" task. I am making the point that their usage in creating long-text forms instantly (e.g. writing emails, cover letters, etc.) might not be so helpful in the future since their abundance will make the forms of communications (e.g. email) or evaluations (e.g. cover letters) adapt appropriately. And to be fair, this is nothing new. The same has happened with the adoption of the internet and every other breakthrough/innovation in the past. The difference in this one is the sudden adoption. But I believe that the adaptation will be similarly sudden.


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