Babbage: How worrying is generative AI?

Since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT almost six months ago, little else has occupied the minds of technologists. Generative artificial intelligence—capable of producing media like text, images and audio in response to prompts—seems to be improving every day, with many technology companies developing and releasing their own competing systems.

As the AI revolution accelerates, the technology is being used in ever more creative ways, companies are discovering its potential, causing unease among many content-creators and white-collar professionals, whose jobs seem to be at risk. The story of automation changing the world of work is not a new one. But the speed, the visibility and the hype surrounding generative AI can seem alarming. How worrying is it?

The Economist’s Abby Bertics and Arjun Ramani explain how large language models work, the risk posed by the technology—and what to do about it. Callum Williams, our senior economics writer, ponders the potential for economic disruption as generative AI enters the workplace. Plus, Tom Standage, The Economist’s deputy editor explores the question of regulating this emerging technology without hindering innovation. Kenneth Cukier hosts.

Listen to all of our coverage of the artificial intelligence revolution at If you love Babbage, why not work with us? We’re hiring for an Assistant Audio Producer to work on the show. Apply by May 15th.

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