Angus Robertson, Panel Moderator and Partner & CRO, Chief Outsiders.              Burke Autrey, Founder and CEO, Fortium Partners.

The rapid adoption of Open AI’s ChatGPT and the emergence of other Large Language Models like Bard AI, Claude (via Anthropic), and others has shifted the discussion about AI to be front and center among CEOs. CEOs are at a crossroads and need to determine if they pause until ChatGPT moves further along the Gartner Hype Cycle or decide how to integrate AI to impact business results better.

The following is an excerpt from a LinkedIn Live webinar titled A CEO’s Guide to AI. Burke Autrey, Founder and CEO of Fortium Partners, participated as one of the thought leaders on a panel discussion with Chief Outsiders’ CMOs, Ed Valdez and Angus Robertson, as well as Seaton Hill Partners’ Eddie Bridgers, Area Managing Partner. During their roundtable discussion, Burke and the panelists discussed the most pressing AI trends that will significantly impact business across all sectors and presented options for moving forward. 

Angus: Burke, can you tell us a little bit about Fortium Partners and your perspective from a tech perspective? 

Burke: Absolutely. Thanks, Angus. Appreciate it. Fortium Partners is the number one provider of technology leadership. We do that in interim, virtual, and fractional roles for CIOs, CTOs, and CISOs. 

We're here today to talk about AI at a high level from the executive perspective. Having those CIO, CTO, and CISO perspectives is a great backdrop for communicating the latest in AI to CEOs, for CEOS need to consider these different perspectives. 

Angus: Perfect. Well, now we can get into the content, and we'll start with a little bit of history in just how we got here. 

Burke: This latest wave of AI has caught us all a little bit by surprise and certainly got us thinking about how things are changing for everybody. Since we are targeting an executive audience, it makes a lot of sense to ask: Why are we talking about this? 

People may have started hearing more about Open AI’s ChatGPT and other vendors and products in the last six to 10 months.  It's been very, very quick. So I thought it would be a good idea to talk about this briefly. 

AI - Artificial Intelligence - really started in earnest back in 1956. There was a lot of talk, So we entered what the industry considered to be the AI winter in the 1970s because the industry decided that it was way before its time; the promise of AI was not really being experienced in society and certainly within technology. And things have been dormant for a long time. That's not to say that there haven’t been amazing advances. Yet, from the public's perspective, there hasn't been as much advancement, especially compared to what happened late last year when we really began to enter what we're calling the AI spring or the boom. Now AI has really kicked off what's called the generative AI race. And so there's a company called Open AI, founded in about 2016 2017 has a lot of famous investors, Microsoft being one of them.

What's called Generative Pre-trained Transformer models is where we get the term GPT that everybody is talking about and likely doesn't know what it means. There was another technology called Large Language Models in the last few years that laid the foundation for the explosion of generative AI, which was made well-known by ChatGPT.

So, if you look at the graphic that I have on the right (see above), artificial intelligence has a lot of subdomains to it - one being natural language processing. Anybody who has been aware of ChatGPT or what's generally considered the current state of the art is that typically, you type something, and the model responds with something else. So it's taking natural language processing and mostly providing an amazing response. 

This was by far the way we became most aware of using the ChatGPT model by putting a web-based interface in front of people so they can type in text or what we call a prompt and get a response. That launched in late 2022 and changed the industry by storm. And that's why we're talking about AI today. Otherwise, had OpenAI not put a web-based interface in front of that very, very complicated technology (LLMs), it would not be useful to the average CEO, professional, or student. It's extremely complicated, yet technologists put something on the front end of it and made it very easy to use.

Angus: So the question we want to ask and answer: Is AI in its hype cycle or do we really have something behind a technology that we can really use?

Burke: That’s a great question because even though it’s in a hype cycle, there's no question that it's time. We're definitely experiencing this boom that started in late 2022. Yet I will remind our audience that there have been a lot of technologies like this: from the Worldwide Web to Web 2.0, Web 3.0, and blockchain. Technologies come along all the time; however, that doesn't necessarily mean that individuals are going to implement these things. 

What happens is new technologies come along, they go through the Gartner hype cycle, like we're showing here, and they provide value, but there's definitely this immediate ramp-up, so people hear about it a lot. They're wondering: What is the value of this? There are real immediate benefits that Ed is going to get into a little bit later, and he's going to show useful examples. Make no mistake. We're at the peak of the hype cycle from Gartner's perspective for generative AI, which is why we're talking about it. Even if it is in the hype cycle, it's for good reason because today's hype leads to tomorrow’s standard expectations. For example, computer vision used to be at the top of the hype cycle; now, it has reached the plateau of probability.

Yet, if you look prior to that, you see autonomous driving and computer vision-influenced autonomous driving. And now we all know that Tesla has autonomous driving, and other car companies are starting. So, everything goes through a hype cycle, just like generative AI is today. So yes, it's being hyped, but it's for good reason. Yet, we need to put that in perspective and realize that we've got a long way to go before it works its way into a common language and common products.

Watch the video: To watch the LinkedIn Live session in its entirety, click here to view more from the recording of this session.

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