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Will Artificial Intelligence Make Us Lazy Thinkers?
At a recent commencement speech at Wake Forest University, Larry Culp, the CEO of General Electric, made an interesting argument about popular technologies and tools people depend upon to express their thinking. He contends that it’s easy for people to become so overly reliant on some tools that they become lazy in their thinking.
It’s not the tools but the use of them that makes people more superficial and less substantive when they reach important conclusions.
Culp points to the overuse of PowerPoint and Social Media as two such corruptive influences. Both tools encourage people to rely heavily on superficial explanations of complex ideas. They ask users to condense substantive thoughts and opinions into bite-sized messages and bullet points. The desire for simplification promoted by both tools sacrifices important details and nuances and replaces thoughtful analysis with platitudes and catchy phrases. The end result is a more one-sided conversation without much depth.
PowerPoint and Social Media are not inherently responsible for this lazy thinking, but they contribute to it when people become overly reliant on them to express their thinking. Any tool or technology that replaces substantive thinking by way of format or structure is a danger when it comes into widespread use. Good leaders don’t prohibit or avoid such valuable tools, but they do guard against their overuse.
It's too early to tell if Artificial Intelligence Chatbots will make people smarter or dumber. But AI clearly has the potential to replace deep thinking with an instant answer to any question.
The option to allow artificial intelligence to think for us will be hugely attractive to many people. If and when that becomes a trend, then AI will be yet another tool that makes us lazy thinkers.
AI will likely prove unequaled as a tool for learning and solving problems. But striking a balance between using AI as a helpful resource while still cultivating a critical mindset will be a crucial test for thoughtful leaders over the next few years.
Thinking critically is the hardest work there is. Letting anything think too much for you is never a great idea.