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### AI Skeptics Argue Technology is Overhyped Amidst Rapid Growth

More than half of survey respondents said AI is “over-hyped,” even as it’s clearl…

Artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT have undeniably become mainstream in 2023, as indicated by a recent survey of more than 1,500 professionals in the technology and related sectors. Despite the rapid adoption of AI, a significant portion of the respondents still perceive it as being overly hyped, with less than a quarter considering it appropriately rated.

The survey, which was carried out by Retool, revealed a widespread enthusiasm for AI tempered with a hint of skepticism. Retool, established in June 2017 and affiliated with the Y Combinator accelerator program, provides a platform for constructing internal business software through a visual development interface.

According to the report, “In 2023, AI—particularly generative AI—has unquestionably entered the mainstream. It appears that almost everyone has experimented with large language models (LLMs), and with over 100 million weekly active users, ChatGPT has essentially become a household name.”

Teachers, talk show hosts, and even grandparents are now utilizing AI chatbots for purposes beyond entertainment, the study noted. However, the actual applications of AI are said to only “scratch the surface” of its potential.

A majority of respondents (51.6%) still perceive AI as over-hyped, while only 23.4% believe it is adequately rated. Favorable views were more prevalent among upper management and executives, whereas software engineers involved in implementation tended to be more skeptical.

Transformation of Jobs and Industries by AI

Survey participants reached a consensus that AI will significantly reshape their industries and job roles within the next five years. On a scale of 0 to 10 measuring impact, the average score exceeded 7. Those in operational positions anticipated the most substantial changes, followed by product managers and engineers.

Expectations revolved around four main areas: efficiency improvements, reduction of mundane tasks, acquisition of new skills, and enhancements to design processes. However, respondents also emphasized the importance of ensuring the safe development of AI.

Reduced Reliance on Stack Overflow

Engineers are now relying less on the popular programming assistance site Stack Overflow for coding support. Nearly 60% of survey respondents reported decreased usage of Stack Overflow since 2022, with one in ten completely discontinuing its use. The primary reason cited for this shift was the emergence of GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT, which together accounted for almost 94% of responses.

GitHub Copilot, introduced in 2021, offers contextual code suggestions as programmers write, functioning as an automated pair programmer.

Necessity of AI Skills

When evaluating the likelihood of hiring candidates proficient in using ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot for coding tasks, respondents averaged a score of 6.7 on a 10-point scale. Small startups exhibited greater openness to such skills, while mid-sized enterprises displayed more caution. Nonetheless, around 30% of respondents expressed neutrality towards AI coding skills, with only a small minority perceiving them negatively.

Drivers Behind the Corporate Interest in AI

Survey participants identified cost savings and industry trends as the primary motivators for businesses pursuing AI initiatives. Key factors included cost reduction (38.7%), trendiness (35.2%), meeting customer demands (32.9%), and competitive pressures (31.1%).

In contrast, a smaller percentage (25.5%) pointed to direct revenue impact as a major driver. The report suggested that companies may currently view AI as a means to cut costs rather than solely boosting profits.

AI’s Utility and Imperfections

Companies actively utilizing AI tools generally regarded them as highly beneficial, albeit not flawless. Issues related to accuracy, data security, and occasional errors were highlighted as the primary concerns.

“Regardless of the intended use, today’s AI tools are unlikely to be flawless,” the report wisely noted. Understanding both the strengths and limitations of any technology can facilitate its effective utilization.

The Future of OpenAI’s Dominance

Among enterprises implementing AI solutions, OpenAI’s natural language offerings reign supreme in terms of adoption compared to other providers. Various iterations of ChatGPT were identified as the most commonly utilized models by respondents.

However, the preference for off-the-shelf solutions over customization remains prevalent. At present, companies opting to self-host open-source algorithms instead of utilizing packaged services remain in the minority.

Insights from the Survey

The insights presented in Retool’s report stem from a public survey conducted in August, with 1,578 respondents participating. Technology professionals accounted for 39% of the respondents, followed by individuals from consulting and professional services (12%) and financial services (10%).

Over a third of the participants identified themselves as engineers, with over a fifth occupying operational roles and 12% serving as product managers. Seventeen percent held executive-level positions such as CEO, 28% were mid-senior managers, and 20% held entry-level positions.

Companies with workforces ranging from 1 to 99 employees comprised 60% of the total respondents, while mid-sized firms with 100 to 999 employees represented 26%, and large enterprises with over 1,000 employees made up the remaining 14%.

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Last modified: February 21, 2024
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