April 18, 2023 Generative AI: An Opportunity, Not a Threat

Corporate Director (CTO)
Kazuhito Kidachi

For me, my image of AI, or artificial intelligence, is that of HAL 9000, a sentient computer technology that science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke introduced in "2001: A Space Odyssey". Even if you haven’t read the original story, from the namesake movie directed by Stanley Kubrick, you may have heard of HAL 9000 as a trusty crew member of the spaceship “Discovery One” which turns against humans.

In the real world, the year 2001 came and went without the appearance of an AI technology, such as one resembling HAL 9000, that could converse naturally with humans. Nowadays, however, as typified by ChatGPT, generative AI has suddenly come into the public eye. Recently, we’re inundated with news about generative AI to the extent that not a day passes without seeing or hearing the name ChatGPT.

Generative AI is an artificial intelligence technology that automatically produces content such as text, images, and videos, and OpenAI's ChatGPT, which provides content through a natural chat format, is a prime example. While the content generated may not always be accurate or meet user intentions, its performance is phenomenal when compared to similar tools and services launched in the past.

Because of the sheer marvel of the technology, I’ve seen quite a few articles which argue that "generative AI will take away human jobs. Of course, there is some validity to this argument. Every time a new technology appears and permeates society, certain jobs that existed until that point disappear, or, even if they don’t, the nature of the job itself changes.

On the other hand, I don’t think it’s a good idea to overreact to the adverse aspects, or fears, of generative AI more than necessary. Peter Drucker, a well-known figure in the field of management, once said, “change must be viewed as an opportunity, not a threat.” The current era, regardless of industry or type of business, presents an appropriate time realize such wise words.

In the context of web design, the demonstration of instantaneous generation of web pages from hand-drawn rough sketches is indeed astounding. At a web design business, like ours, it’s possible to pessimistically imagine that when this technology evolves further, a significant portion of the web design process will be automated and the need for human involvement will virtually disappear. Consequently, we tend to view generative AI as a threat.

However, to a somewhat lesser extent, similar comments have been made whenever a new useful design tool, framework, CMS, or web service has appeared on the market. The reason why we haven’t yet reached 100% automation, or close to it, is that it’s difficult to automate the total value provision that combines functional values with emotive values; furthermore, human-led coordination, modification, and judgment is indispensable in good quality web design.

This time, however, it may not be possible to compare past technological change on the same level as the current flourishing of generative AI. That’s how unique I perceive generative AI to be; furthermore, the rapidity with which the trends are changing makes it difficult to predict the future. Regardless of whether my assumptions prove right or wrong, what’s important at the current time is to see generative AI as an opportunity, not a threat - even in web design.

Specifically, the proactive use of generative AI during each development phase and process can promote improvements in efficiency and productivity. This will contribute to the realization of designs of equal or better quality than before, while reducing time and monetary costs. I believe that through continuous, appropriate practice we’ll be able to maintain our raison d'être, as described in my Column "Ready-made and Custom-made", even in an age when coexistence with generative AI is inevitable.

At Mitsue-Links, we’ve already formulated guidelines for AI utilization. Furthermore, specific in-house initiatives are underway - such as the holding of an applied AI usage contest. Going forward, our entire company is now committed to the further utilization of generative AI.

For more information on our services, timeframes and estimates, as well as examples of our work, please feel free to be in touch.