The death of expertise
Where have all the experts gone?
A decade ago, expertise was in high demand, and becoming an expert in a particular field – particularly high-tech domains – took a lot of research and hard work. Learning by experience was considered essential.
But as we relied more and more on technology, and the amount of information online literally exploded, it was easy to acquire expertise simply by asking Google or watching YouTube videos on a subject. Almost everything you wanted to know about anything was available ‘on the internet’ and the skill was knowing how to look for it.
Need to cook a special curry or change the suspension on a BMW? A dozen videos would guide you step-by-step, for free. Granted, there was a lot of fake news and nonsense on social platforms, but therein lay another skill – knowing how to find trusted sources, and sift the wheat from the chaff.
True experts resented the ‘dumbing down’ of humanity by tech companies. No one could read a map or remember a phone number, or even spell. Why bother to learn how, when Apple and Google and Microsoft do it for you? We outsourced our data, knowledge, and expertise to the cloud, and if we need anything, there’s an app for that. Just don’t lose your device, or access!
Then came a pivotal moment, when ChatGPT took the world by storm. Instead of laboriously searching the web, just ask ChatGPT to collate and summarize the information for you – and then write the email or paper too. Instant expertise was ours for the asking. And who were we to question the Oracle? If the AI knows more than you do, you learn to trust it.
But with access to real-time data – including the social platforms – and the ability to post on our behalf, soon the vast majority of ‘expert information and opinion’ on the internet was a cleverly reworded, paraphrased, unpacked, or expanded version of what was already there in the first place. GPT and its ilk became the preeminent provider of content; text, images, video, and code. None of it truly original.
And where have all the experts gone?
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