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I’m a grumpy, middle-aged man with a tired and misty eye for the ridiculous. While the autumn sun fights a losing battle with the upcoming winter, the conference season and 2024 prediction sessions ushers in a bewildering spectacle in the realm of the new black: (generative) AI. It’s a grotesque and colorful parade of self-proclaimed experts, each more abundant than pumpkin spice lattes in November, strutting across the stage with testosterone filled claims of digital dominion.

Guru’s and Groupies

There I sat, amidst the dimmed lights of impressive conference halls, or on cheap plastic chairs around an improvised stage, witnessing a phenomenon both perplexing and concerning. The ‘experts’ on AI exhibit their confidence with a flair that would put any Texan second car salesman to Barbie-pink shame. They are as diverse as teeth on a crack smoker. Has been talk-show-hosts, CEO’s of one man companies, authors with the-book-a-year syndrome, consultants seeking remuneration, guru’s in search of groupies. A year ago they were experts on hybrid working; the year before that on NFT’s; the year before that on mRNA vaccines, 5G and intergalactic epidemiology; and last week, they were specialists on Palestrina-Israeli relations and global warming.

Mist and Mixology

These modern-day oracles spout spray-tan wisdom and misty container-concepts as clear as mud. They juggle jargon and mix terminologies with the finesse of a neurotic bartender crafting a no-liquor cocktail – all style, no substance, but always a fashionable zest of lemon. They speak of intelligence, neurons, singularities, neural network; deep learning; and quantum propelled machine learning as if they’re reciting a dreamy enchanting nursery rhyme. Just a quick, closer look reveals a terrifying hollow core of vast emptiness: recycled buzzwords and surface-level insights.

In today’s world, it seems a vague, self-congratulatory and auto proclaimed LinkedIn update is all it takes to metamorphose from average Joe Doe to a world rattling AI maven authority. This leads me, traditionally a keen observing inquisitive generalist, to ponder: What really makes a true expert?

Expertise and context

My own journey from the realm of journalism and strategic corporate communications to values-based business mentoring and societal trends is a testimonial to the value of bold career switches and daring industry transitions. I firmly believe that the conversations and reflections on trends and societal, economic, climatologic and human impact should extend beyond the overspecialized tech elite. After all, the most profound insights often come from those who’ve never written a line of code, but have a firm and well willing eye on the broader context.

But here’s the catch: As a trend-spotter, I ask questions, I sketch trajectories, projections and impact.  But who are the experts, what is the benchmark? What separates the true expert from an opportunistic transient shiny object-hopper? It’s not just the expensive alphabet soup of degrees and certifications from a variety of free online universities; it should -goddammit- (pardon my French) be something immensely more profound than proclaiming “I am now a professional AI prompter”.

My kingdom for an expert

To me, real experts are intrinsically woven into the very fabric of their field, contributing and questioning, yet always aware of their limits. They’re not trend chasers but trend setters, blending experience with insight and humility. Dreamers and builders. Rainmakers, and hands-on knee-deep movers. I want to listen to the educators of the LLM frameworks, the psychologists, neuroscientists and data architects.  I want facts, info, procedures. I have the questions. Where are the -peer reviewed- answers?

Beware the chameleon who was last year’s POAP guru and is now this year’s prompt engineering sensation. These are not experts; they’re seasonal actors. The “fifteen things you can do with ChatGPT” authors. Entertainment. Panem et circenses.

What we need in this age of AI are authentic specialist and expert voices, not echo chambers of misinformation. We need diversity in thought and background, not opportunists on a fleeting visit to tech wonderland. In the world of AI, diversity is golden strength, not an idle buzzword. In a world where chatbots can play the expert, the last thing we need is more noise drowning out the symphony of true understanding.

As the cacophony of faux expertise rises, let’s seek those rare, authentic echoes that can truly define our digital future. If the emperor is naked, somebody will need to scream it.

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