As you have doubtless noticed, we are in the middle of a feeding frenzy about something called generative AI. Legions of hitherto normal people – and economists – are surfing a wave of irrational exuberance about its transformative potential. It’s the newest new thing.
For anyone suffering from the fever, two antidotes are recommended. The first is the hype cycle monitor produced by consultants Gartner, which shows the technology currently perched on the “peak of inflated expectations”, before a steep decline into the “trough of disillusionment”. The other is Hofstadter’s law, about the difficulty of estimating how long difficult tasks will take, which says that “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s law”. Just because a powerful industry and its media boosters are losing their marbles about something doesn’t mean that it will sweep like a tsunami through society at large. Reality moves at a more leisurely pace.