All Utilizing Tech

AI Is My Co Pilot with Chris Grundemann | Utilizing Tech 06×06

Everyone uses AI today, whether they know it or not, and it’s critical for users of this technology to understand its capability and limitations. This episode of Utilizing Tech features Chris Grundemann, a fellow podcast host and Tech Field Day delegate, talking the many ways we use AI every day. Like Frederic Van Haren and Stephen Foskett, Chris uses AI to assist with content creation in many ways, from summarization and organization of data to image generation. Content creators are using AI tools like ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion, and more to process data, but we all agree that it’s best to spend time and effort to refine the output, especially when it comes to tone and voice. We are also using AI based tools for coding and structuring data, especially interactively. Although some have suggested that AI will replace content creators or coders, the technology is instead democratizing access and making it easier to use on a daily basis. It also makes computing more available to those who were previously locked out, expanding the impact of the technology we have spent decades creating.

AI as a Coding Co-Pilot

At the World Government Summit, 2024, held in Dubai, Jensen Huang, CEO of NVIDIA, said that kids need not learn to code. Instead, he argued, that they should turn their focus toward domains like biology, education, agriculture, and so on. His comment has stirred conversation on whether coding is coming to an extinction.

This episode of Utilizing AI Podcast brought to you by Tech Field Day, now part of the Futurum Group, explores the implications of leaving deep expertise like coding, entirely to AI.

Hosts, Stephen Foskett and Frederic Van Haren, talk with this week’s guest on the show, Chris Grundemann, about the practical applications of AI – tasks it can take over dependably, and those it can only assist with.

Can AI Write Code from Scratch?

Grundemann wears many hats. He is a network engineer, an independent analyst and consultant, and the managing director of the Grundemann Technology Solutions.

When it comes to AI, his position is hardened. Generative AI maybe good at a lot of mundane jobs, and can save people a lot of time and work, but it can, in no way, shape or form, take over the job of coding in a way that threatens to replace professional programmers. Grundemann, tends to look at AI as more of a co-pilot.

“I don’t think we can totally abandon coding, or that these kinds of deep technology expertise are ever going to go away,” he states.

There is no getting around the fact that AI has become inseparable from our lives. Whether we know it or not, we lean on it every minute for myriad different things. But when it comes to skills that go beyond fielding canned questions, AI is still sorely lacking.

“The consumer-facing tools that promise to ingest your content and come back with 50 million blog ideas, and 32,000 Facebook posts – I haven’t seen those tools work very well,” notes Grundemann.

But AI tools have served their purpose in a far bigger way than most realize. “We can greatly empower the rest of the population to use coding much more broadly with these human language interfaces for sure,” he points out.

A user of the technology does not need to have coding expertise to engage with it. They can convey a thought or command simply by using natural language prompts.

GenAI tools may not yet be trusted to write their own working code, but a lot of programmers have tapped into their capabilities for a different purpose –  to examine the technical correctness of code. This approach has far greater payoffs than getting it to generate a code all on its own.

Make no mistake, ChatGPT and Gemini can and will write small pieces of code here and there, and they may even be working and ethical, but they aren’t the most elegant, nor the most effective.

AI Is Democratizing Domain Expertise

A pro photographer, Grundemann finds it helpful to use AI to generate images for his content. He finds himself frequently reaching for photo editors like Canva to retouch those images before putting them up online.

Refining the results is key, says host, Stephen Foskett. “I’m never publishing anything that comes directly out of ChatGPT, or any of these tools. I find myself dramatically, drastically editing things, especially in terms of tone and voice.”

Trusted editing software like Adobe Photoshop are now living up to the hype with integrated AI features and capabilities. Thanks to that, what used to be the sole dominion of professional and trained artists, can now be anybody’s. Just a little bit of imagination is all that is required.

One can do things like swapping backgrounds, changing object colors, adding new objects or removing existing ones, with just a click or two. There is no longer a need to learn the ropes of classical photo editing.

AI’s contribution to coding is somewhat similar. “AI bot as a co-pilot, vs AI bot as a tool – it’s a subtle distinction, but I think the nuance is really important. A good way to look at these things is that if AI is having some agency, and it is being adaptive and amiable, it can be more of a coworker,” Grundemann says.

This coworker may not write the most illustrious piece of code for you, but where human eyes get murky scanning through long code for mistakes and omissions, it can catch issues instantly.

Recognizing the Potential for Error Is Key

But approaching AI for generating something from scratch is not the cleverest thing. “AI can help, but not create by itself, because it learns form the past, and if there is no past, it’s going to hallucinate and provide something it thinks it has seen before. That’d be a lot of work to undo for a developer,” says co-host, Frederic Van Haren.

In the past, AI hallucinations have broken things badly, in many cases, leading to unpleasant outcomes. The anxiety has led many to sit on the fence about using the technology.

But in truth, problems can arise with even human employees. “What are the chances that you hire a new employee, and they botch something up? I don’t know that it’s much better or worse than the AI hallucination for the same reasons, says Grundemann. “That person also may do something, just out of a bad habit. Either way, mistakes get made. The key isn’t to think that AI is going to be omniscient, but to treat it as a flawed tool or coworker like everyone else,” he concludes.

For that reason, to Huang’s point, coding may not be an essential skill to interact with computers in the future. “An average person may no longer have to learn to code, but we still need to focus on the critical thinking skills that’s going to parse out the things on the risk side.”

In other words, GenAI tools as self-driving technologies are not ready for primetime yet. But, as helpers, they go a long way, complementing professionals, and boosting human productivity. More and most, the tools show  an entire generation of users how to communicate with complex technologies and get them to do things, with the simplest and shortest prompts. It’s how we adapt to AI that is going to determine the future of the technology. Whether one uses it to generate a piece of prose or write up a code is up to them.

For more, keep watching the Utilizing Tech Podcast series. Chris Grundemann’s show, The Imposter Syndrome Network Podcast, is another great series to check out for things related to technology. Also tune in for the Tech Field Day Podcast which is out every Tuesday on Gestalt IT, for deep discussions on enterprise tech.

Podcast Information

Thank you for listening to Utilizing AI, part of the Utilizing Tech podcast series. If you enjoyed this discussion, please subscribe in your favorite podcast application and consider leaving us a rating and a nice review on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This podcast was brought to you by Tech Field Day, now part of The Futurum Group. For show notes and more episodes, head to our dedicated Utilizing Tech Website or find us on X/Twitter and Mastodon at Utilizing Tech.

Gestalt IT and Tech Field Day are now part of The Futurum Group.

About the author

Sulagna Saha

Sulagna Saha is a writer at Gestalt IT where she covers all the latest in enterprise IT. She has written widely on miscellaneous topics. On she writes about the hottest technologies in Cloud, AI, Security and sundry.

A writer by day and reader by night, Sulagna can be found busy with a book or browsing through a bookstore in her free time. She also likes cooking fancy things on leisurely weekends. Traveling and movies are other things high on her list of passions. Sulagna works out of the Gestalt IT office in Hudson, Ohio.

Leave a Comment