EP 38: The AI Revolution: Advancements and Predictions for 2024

A Year in Review and a Glimpse into AI's Future

In this insightful episode of Tech UNMUTED, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar reflect on a transformative year in AI, marking the onset of the generative AI era with ChatGPT's advancements.

They discuss the rapid progress and widespread adoption of AI technologies like ChatGPT 4, Google Gemini, and Microsoft's Copilot, discussing the competitive landscape and the emergence of autonomous intelligent agents.

The conversation also explores the implications for businesses, the importance of data cleanliness, and the ethical considerations in AI deployment.

As they forecast the pivotal changes expected in 2024, the duo emphasizes the need for companies to embrace both mature and experimental AI technologies to stay ahead.

Join us for a compelling discussion on AI's current state and its exciting future trajectory.

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Transcript for this Episode:

INTRODUCTION VOICEOVER: This is Tech UNMUTED. The podcast of modern collaboration – where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. With your hosts, George Schoenstein and Santi Cuellar. Welcome to Tech UNMUTED.

GEORGE: Welcome to today's episode of Tech UNMUTED. Today we're going to take a look at what's happened in the last year from an AI standpoint and also start to think about where we think it's going in 2024 and even beyond that a little bit. I do want to point out to everybody, subscribe. We want to see you out there. We want to see you following us and give us a like, give us some comments in the box below and we will respond to those and maybe do an episode on them if the comments weren't more of that. Santi, I'll turn it over to you to start this off.

SANTI: Yes. Can you believe it's been a year, a year since ChatGPT made its big announcement that its latest large language model was now available for general consumption? By the way, when they announced it, I believe it was ChatGPT 3, right? Then it didn't take that long, like a few months later, all of a sudden, we had ChatGPT 4. It's been about a year. I think, seriously, when I think about it, to me that was the kickoff of what I want to call the generative AI era.

I understand that it's been in development for a long time. There's been milestones. We did a whole 10-year review of how we got here. Seriously, think about it. It's now generally available. I think that kicks off a new era for generative AI. That's the way I've always felt about it. George, it's been a year. Remember, we talked about this a year ago.

GEORGE: Yes. It's been a year of rapid advancement. The capabilities have increased exponentially. The usability of the outputs has increased exponentially. You can use it from a daily test standpoint today with business that you weren't able to do a year ago. It was helpful a year ago, and we've been using it for now over a year, pretty actively. We got great benefits out of it when we go back 12 to 15, even 18 months ago, but it's so much more productive today than it was back then.

SANTI: Yes, it's true. By the way, the advancements, even in this last year, they have happened so fast. Everybody is jumping in on this. Yes, while OpenAI, which is the company that launched ChatGPT, was the first one to really hit the market with that general availability of that chatbot, it wasn't long after that, we had Google Gemini. We had Microsoft launch its Copilot, which is making a big splash right now. What just happened maybe a month ago, X, Elon Musk said, "Hey, I have my own generative AI platform."

His entire pitch is, while ChatGPT is only as good as January, or actually December of 2022 data, he claims that his is up to date all the time. Now they're going to compete on stuff like that. Anyway, so everybody sees the potential. Now also you see everybody jumping on this wagon. It's really going to be-- it really is a revolution when you think about it. I remember you and I had a guest last year. He was a guest for, it was for a contact center company, and he was responsible for AI. His entire opening-- I don't know if you remember this. This was even before-- this was early on in the early stages of ChatGPT. He says, "This is the next gold rush." Remember he said that?

GEORGE: Yes.

SANTI: It feels that way. Everybody's rushing to get their version of this generative AI. That's what's happened in the last 12 months. It's been a revolution. It's been fast. Not only has it been fast, it's been continuous. It has not let up. That's what's amazing about this. It's not like a one-hit wonder. It just continues to evolve. There it is. That's all happened in literally the last 12 months, and it's crazy.

GEORGE: Yes. It's been-- and again, it's the speed of change that has had such an impact because there are deficiencies when you use the platforms and you may struggle with elements of it, but they really quickly get addressed and it is a continuous learning model that exists within the LLMs that allows that to happen. Now with things like the customizable Copilots that you can use for a specific purpose, that makes it even more useful from a business standpoint and is going to increase the impact.

SANTI: By the way, that's where Microsoft set themselves apart from everyone else. The fact that, "Hey, not only do I have this AI that I can offer to make them more productive, but why don't I just open up the gates and let you make your own?" Nobody's doing that yet.

GEORGE: It's in an easier-to-use platform and interface. It is really the difference between a platform play and a standalone. Pretty much everybody else is in a standalone mode. Having it in a single platform where you use 365, maybe you use Azure for other elements of your infrastructure or your business, sort of in between that sits this ability to do the customized Copilots in an interface that's easy to use. We talk about it all the time. It's low code. It's no code. It's those kinds of things.

It allows the everyday user to get out there and take advantage of it. We will talk a little bit as we go through where we think this is going. There are some pivot points that are going to take place in 2024 that will either make this fully mainstream or may commoditize the whole thing and distribute it a little differently than we see it playing out today.

SANTI: Very interesting. Very interesting. I guess the other aspect of this. This is where we're at, 12 months now. What's going to continue to happen? I think it's going to continue to evolve. I don't think we've seen the ultimate offering. It's not there yet. It's going to be a continuous evolvement, and the progress in which AI is going to move will continue to be as fast. I don't think it's going to slow down anytime soon. I almost feel like AI progress is almost like self-reinforcing.

What I think is going to happen is I think we're going to see, in 2024, a lot of companies struggling. Trying to catch up. I think it's normal for something that-- because it's happening too quickly. They're still trying to figure out how to use ChatGPT 4 which launched a year ago. Now they have to figure out how to use Copilot, which, by the way, it's better because you can use your own data. They're trying to figure that out. I think there's going to be a struggle with that.

Unlike the PC revolution, which was a big revolution, I think AI's constant evolution is going to leave very little time for companies to adapt to this and make it a permanent thing. Actually, I think it's going to be a permanent revolution when you think about it. It's going to be an ongoing revolution. I think this is where we're going to be in the next few months. It's what I'm saying.

GEORGE: Yes, I agree. There's a lot that goes into that. There is the public versus private data. Is it grounded against my own data and am I learning within my own environment or am I using fully public data and interacting with it, or is there a hybrid of the two? Really, the model is hybrid of the two, where I think a lot of learning will happen outside the corporate walls and make the inside the corporate wall LLMs, AI, however you term it, work better and advance more quickly. There's still that play across all of those.

You do have a lot of individual users as well. You have other ways to utilize the AI. There are fully publicly facing things where shared data is fine. I think one of the keys we're going to see is you will start to unravel data within organizations and you're going to quickly see where you have clean data and where you don't have clean data, and where you don't have clean data, the output is not going to be as substantial and as useful. I think there will be a lot of efforts to make sure that the data that's being grounded against is clean, and maybe the AI help cleans it.

I've seen it at many organizations I've worked with, in particular CRM data. CRM data usually ends up being a collection of things that have been merged together and not well-managed. To ground that data and use it for AI, it's going to be good, not great. Maybe as an interim step, going in and using the AI to help identify issues in the data and make it more robust and then use it as a source to get outputs from may lead to a better overall outcome. Why don't we shift a little bit and talk about what do we think-- what are one or two things we think going into 2024 and beyond that we're going to see and that are going to be impactful?

SANTI: I think that, first of all, we're going to see a very interesting form of business transformation. I almost feel like the business transformation has to be like a dual intent. In other words, it's as if success inside of this AI era is going to require, in my opinion, companies to simultaneously adopt not just mature technologies, but they have to really, really intentionally be ready for the experimentational technologies, the stuff that's emerging and it's emerging quickly.

I think this is also why, while Copilot, in theory, sounds great, adoption's going to take a while. They have to change how they think about business transformation. They're going to have to have a dual intent, and they shouldn't have fear of embracing the newer stuff, the stuff that they're experimenting with. I just think that's one thing we're going to start seeing as far as corporate behavior. I don't know what your take is on that, but I see that.

GEORGE: Yes, I totally agree. The big pieces, and we've talked about this a lot before, there's a pivot point that's going to take place. You're either in the game or you're not.

SANTI: Correct.

GEORGE: If you choose to take a conservative, highly risk-adjusted view of what you do from a business standpoint, you are going to be left behind.

SANTI: 100%, I believe that. I really do.

GEORGE: We've seen it with technology adoption for 50 years. The people who lag in the technology adoption do not perform as well going forward, and the people who lean in do. The rapid nature of how this is moving forward really requires you to make a decision and be deliberate. To your point, there are things you're experimenting with you need to quickly implement. There was a lot of fear in the market six, eight months ago where, "Is it going to take people's jobs? Is it going to have this negative impact?" I don't hear as much of that in the market. There is a drive to make sure that things are done in a safe-

SANTI: Ethical way.

GEORGE: -reasonable, risk-adjusted way.

SANTI: Sure.

GEORGE: You've got to make decisions today as a business leader. If you do not make a decision today, you will absolutely be left behind.

SANTI: Yes, and as of right now, Copilot is limited, because only the enterprise customers, those who have an enterprise agreement have access to it today. I'm referring to specifically Copilot for Microsoft 365, for that whole suite. They already said, in a call that I was on, that early next year-- they didn't give me a timeframe, it's going to be generally available. You need to start thinking about if you're not part of the enterprise agreement, arrangement with Microsoft to your standard company that just buys licenses as needed, well, you need to start thinking about when and how you're going to implement Copilot.

By the way, our hopes is that the amount of content we're putting out to try and help and explain how Copilot works, where it can have an impact, what are some of the use cases, I hope this type of content is helping customers and organizations reach that decision. Yes, it's coming. You need to be an early adopter. I'll tell you what, George, the last thing I'll mention as far as what's coming, I almost feel like I can visualize it, what I'm about to say, I can literally visualize it.

Yes, we have all this generative AI, we have all these Copilots, all these things rolling out, yes, it's great. I think we're going to see it, and I think we're going to see it in 2024. I'm not trying to pitch something that is so far. No, I'm talking about what's coming next year. I feel that next year we're going to see something and we're going to see the rise-- listen carefully, not the rise of machines that came out of a Terminator movie. No, I think we're going to see the rise of autonomous intelligent agents.

In other words, think of a Copilot that you customized, but you don't need to tell it what to do. In other words, here's an intelligent agent, it's going to take action with very minimal or none whatsoever human interaction. It's going to independently plan, it's going to execute tasks, it's going to make decisions, it's going to even, maybe even trigger workflows without you telling it to. I believe that that's going to be the very, very next disruptive phase of the AI evolution, and it's going to happen in 2024, that's my prediction.

GEORGE: I agree, and you see little pieces of it today sometimes in security, where there's AI monitoring, it's doing things on its own-

SANTI: That's right.

GEORGE: -it's generally then triggering something to somebody in a sock or wherever who then makes the actual decision on what's to be done. It's that autonomous piece taking it then to, really, all the end-user community, letting you customize and do things. Because today, the way 99.9% of the interactions have with an end user with AI is they go out and they trigger something to happen, "Record this meeting," and you know within Teams Premium it records it, and it gives you analysis of the meeting.

SANTI: It's a prompt. It's a prompt.

GEORGE: Exactly. I want an image developed, so I go to DALL Es within ChatGPT, and I say, "Create this picture for me," or whatever the image is. Or I say, "Review this document, and tell me where it can be improved or streamlined." To have AI sitting next to you, for example, in Word, actively monitoring, and as you're working through the document, say, "Hey, Santi, this document isn't really concise and clear, I have some recommendations for you. By the way, here's the recommendation." Allows you to make the decision of do you add it or do you not add it.

To your point you alluded to, you're in a meeting, and it automatically is taking the meeting notes. More or less, by default, it may be making the decision of, "Hey, that was George and Santi talking about vacation, I'm not going to give any prompts or recommendations on that." Then there's another conversation that's a business conversation, and it is going to come back and say, "I know you had this conversation on Teams, and here's a recommended set of next steps, even though you didn't ask me for it, here's what I think."

SANTI: Exactly. Here's a good one, ready? We're in a meeting together. In the context of the meeting, you say, "Hey, we probably need a second meeting to follow up on this." What's the next step everybody does? They start searching for an available date and time. Somebody-- no, have the AI prompt right away, "I see you guys want to schedule a follow-up meeting, I already looked, and here's when you're all available. Do you want me to book it?" Book it. I didn't tell it to search it, it already knew to look for it.

Here's one, because we're Marketing guys. Maybe we are planning some major-- what do companies do at the beginning of every year? They have a sales kickoff. Maybe you have a sales kickoff meeting, and you're coming up with a theme, and guess what? The AI already generates for you four or five images based on – can you imagine? and then it just, "Oh, by the way, in case you want an image, I went ahead and generated these based on our conversation." I didn't trigger it, it just did it. That is my vision for 2024.

I think we're going to see more autonomous, smart agents that are working alongside you that will require very minimal, if not no human intervention whatsoever. Anyway, folks, this brings this podcast to a close. That was a quick little nutshell overview of what's happened in the last 12 months with AI. Hey, maybe 12 months from now, we'll reference this and see if we were right with our predictions.

GEORGE: Maybe it'll be AI and it won't actually be us.

SANTI: It won't be us. Maybe it'll just be our virtual selves. Maybe we don't have to do podcasts anymore. We'll just have our virtual avatars just do it for us. Anyway, yes, that wouldn't be any fun. That being said, folks, this does bring our podcast to an end. Again, just want to remind you to please subscribe on your favorite podcast platform. That also includes, if you'd like to see us as talking heads, having banter, you can do that on YouTube. Until next time, stay curious, stay connected.

CLOSING VOICEOVER: Visit www.fusionconnect.com/techunmuted for show notes and more episodes. Thanks for listening.


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Produced by: Fusion Connect

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Tech UNMUTED, the podcast of modern collaboration, where we tell the stories of how collaboration tools enable businesses to be more efficient and connected. Humans have collaborated since the beginning of time – we’re wired to work together to solve complex problems, brainstorm novel solutions and build a connected community. On Tech UNMUTED, we’ll cover the latest industry trends and dive into real-world examples of how technology is inspiring businesses and communities to be more efficient and connected. Tune in to learn how today's table-stakes technologies are fostering a collaborative culture, serving as the anchor for exceptional customer service.

Get show notes, transcripts, and other details at www.fusionconnect.com/techUNMUTED. Tech UNMUTED is a production of Fusion Connect, LLC.