The rise of generalists in the AI era

Orchestrators becoming executors.

A striking 3D illustration of a woman with a futuristic and intricate mechanical headdress. The headdress is made up of an array of copper wires, gears, and electronic components, blending into her form and suggesting an advanced cybernetic augmentation. Her expression is serene and contemplative, and the dark background with floating golden leaves adds a surreal, ethereal quality to the image.

In an era increasingly shaped by the marvels of artificial intelligence, the emergence of generalists as pivotal figures is unmistakable. David Epstein, in his pioneering work Range, makes a persuasive case for the merits of a diverse skillset. This argument gains even more relevance in the age of AI-generated content.

As AI starts performing tasks once exclusive to specialists, the role of the generalist is not just maintained but elevated. Here’s why.

The power of diverse experiences

A vibrant illustration depicting a diverse group of people standing together in unity against a backdrop of swirling warm colors. They appear inspired and connected by the movement around them, suggesting a sense of community and shared purpose

Generalists, with their mosaic of backgrounds and assorted experiences, offer a distinctive approach to problem-solving. Epstein underscores how diverse experiences fuel creative thought and novel solutions. In the AI sphere, where algorithms craft content, the generalist transforms from a simple coordinator to a dynamic implementer. They connect different elements, creating an ideational tapestry that AI, limited by its programming, cannot replicate.

Picture a filmmaker who previously depended on scriptwriters, cinematographers, and editors. With AI tools for script generation, visual effects, and editing, they can now delve into various genres and styles more liberally. They can swiftly design a sci-fi thriller or a historical drama, allowing AI to manage genre-specific intricacies, thus enhancing their storytelling.

A generalist filmmaker might use AI tools like DeepMind’s Dramatron for character descriptions, plot points, and location insights, and Squibler for crafting engaging video scripts across genres.

Adaptability: the generalist’s ace

A highly detailed digital painting of a chameleon with vivid blue, red, and green scales perched on a branch in a dark, lush forest. The chameleon stands out with its textured skin against the mysterious and moody backdrop of the jungle.

In a world where change is constant, adaptability is invaluable. Generalists, unconfined to a single expertise, fluidly move across multiple fields. This flexibility is crucial when interacting with AI. As AI evolves, generalists adeptly incorporate new technologies, a feat specialized professionals might find daunting.

Consider a product manager who once relied on specialized visual designers. Now, with advanced product design AI tools like Uizard or Magician, they can expedite the design process. Uizard, for instance, turns hand-drawn sketches into wireframes, streamlining the design journey from concept to prototype. This adaptability empowers a generalist PM to amplify their creativity and focus on user-centric problems.

Granted the aesthetic sense of such AI tools are not there yet, which brings me to my next point.

The Importance of Aesthetic Judgment

A colorful art gallery scene where a young girl with a red backpack stands admiring the paintings. The gallery is filled with an array of brightly colored abstract artworks that illuminate the room with a warm, inviting glow.

AI can produce content but lacks a nuanced understanding of human taste and cultural context. Here, the generalist’s broad exposure to various fields and cultures becomes critical. Their role is to curate, edit, and refine AI-generated content to ensure it connects with human audiences. This is where good taste comes in.

Bridging AI and Human Creativity

An atmospheric and cozy illustration of a person sitting at a desk, facing a large window with a cityscape view. The room is cluttered with artistic and eclectic decor, bathed in the warm light of a sunset that floods in from the outside.

The fusion of AI capabilities and human creativity is where generalists truly excel. While AI generates content from data and algorithms, it lacks the subtle grasp of human experiences and emotions. Generalists, with their expansive worldview, can imbue AI-created content with empathy, ethics, and cultural pertinence, making it more relatable to human audiences.

A social media content creator, who once spent extensive time on content creation, can now use AI for initial drafts or visual ideas. Their role evolves to refining and personalizing this content, ensuring it mirrors their unique style and audience preferences, creating a blend of AI efficiency and human authenticity. They might use tools like Narrato AI Content Genie for efficient content generation and publishing.

The Era of the Polymath

A circular library room bathed in warm sunlight streaming through large windows, featuring bookshelves filled to the brim with books, globes, and scientific instruments. The setting is serene and academic, with a classic aesthetic

Historically, polymaths were lauded for their mastery in multiple disciplines. Today, this mastery means effectively using AI tools in various areas. Generalists, akin to contemporary polymaths, are poised to utilize AI for a range of applications, from artistic pursuits to intricate problem-solving in business and science.

A small business owner, previously reliant on external agencies for marketing, design, analytics, and marketing can now leverage AI tools for market analysis, ad creation, and social media management. This newfound ability to wear multiple hats effectively transforms them into a polymath, capable of managing diverse aspects of their business more directly and intuitively. Tools like GravityWrite almost seem like a cheat code at the hands of small business owners.

Navigating Ethical Landscapes

With AI’s growing prevalence, ethical considerations become critical. Generalists, familiar with diverse perspectives, can more skillfully navigate these ethical terrains. They ensure that AI-generated content adheres not only to technical standards but also to societal norms and values.

For instance, an AI-driven news platform managed by generalist editors confronts the challenge of biased algorithms. Their varied expertise enables them to identify and mitigate biases, ensuring balanced and fair news content. This role in overseeing AI applications underscores the evolving responsibility of creators.

Democratization of Creativity

An abstract, colorful illustration featuring a collection of stylized human figures in a variety of poses and expressions, interspersed with organic shapes and fluid forms. The figures are depicted in a modern, flat design with a rich palette of oranges, teals, and greens, creating a dynamic and harmonious composition.

The advent of AI has lowered the barriers to entry for many creative and technical endeavors. People who may not have had the resources or time to acquire specialized training can now bring their creative visions to life. This democratization means a more diverse range of voices and ideas in every field.

A writer with a passion for science fiction but limited technical knowledge of space science can now use AI to fill in the gaps. AI tools can provide accurate scientific details, allowing the writer to focus on crafting compelling narratives and characters. Tools like Squibler and Jasper AI excel in crafting detailed narratives and creating immersive story elements.

Ethical Considerations

A minimalist and modern illustration of a balance scale on a shelf, accompanied by various simple decorative items. The color palette is muted with cool tones, and there’s a sense of calm and balance in the composition.

As AI integrates further into content creation, questions about originality, privacy, and bias become more pressing. Generalists, with their wide-ranging understanding, are well-suited to lead these discussions.

For instance, a journalist using AI for reporting must consider the AI’s information sources, potential biases, and the ethical implications of using algorithmic content.

In conclusion, AI-generated content doesn’t herald the end of human creativity but its transformation. Generalists, with their diverse skills, adaptability, and ethical awareness, are at the vanguard of this new epoch. They aren’t just visionaries but also implementers, merging AI-generated efficiency with human creativity and ethical discernment. The examples cited illustrate the evolving nature of various roles, offering a glimpse into a future where AI and human creativity jointly unlock new realms of creation.

Further reading:

  1. Introducing GPTs by OpenAI
  2. Machine Learning mastery
  3. Google AI
  4. Linus Ekenstam newsletter on AI

The rise of generalists in the AI era was originally published in UX Collective on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.






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