About 10 days ago, I took part in my very first panel as a tech expert. Or an expert in anything, really: I’ve been on stage before, to sell hair colorants (in my youth), to perform improv sketches (more recently and with even less success) and for a few other things here and there. As you might have guessed from me writing my life stories on a blog, I don’t mind being on stage, speaking my mind and generally talking about myself.
However, this was a little different: I was there as a subject matter expert, more specifically on the topic of AI, which I’ve gotten to tackle with fairly closely in a business project recently. In all absolute honesty, I don’t consider myself an authentic expert on AI, but I will still concede that I know more about chatbots, autonomous cars or predictive maintenance than the next guy. Which isn’t that hard, mind you: everyone thinks they know AI because they’ve seen the movie, but they most likely don’t (although, to be fair, I haven’t actually seen said movie).
What was fun is that the other guys on the panel were both more expert than I was: one of them is also a consultant, although AI is his main focus (mine is still posting cat pictures on Instagram) and the other one started his own AI-based startup and develops full-on AI applications for a bunch of clients and companies. He knows what’s up. Which was great, because I was sitting next to him and looked good by simply nodding in agreement when he talked.
In any case, my great strength doesn’t lie in the minutia of any topic (again, except for cats) but in the ability to summarize things in simple, understandable terms so that any audience can grasp what the main insights in a discussion are. And that I very much tried to do, which was not a vain task because our audience, master-level business students, turned out to be pretty weary when it came to AI. As all of us tried to show, this technological trend is much more of an asset to humanity than it is a threat to anyone’s job (some will disappear, but many more will be created, regardless your skill level), but it turns out 20-somethings still fear that the rise of the machines will coincide with the downfall of man.
Since when has man been able to create something that will overthrow him? You have 2 hours.