Rediscovering Digital Divide with GenAI

With digital tools, we keep rediscovering the same truth, which is that they increase the productivity differences (performance) between people. Prolific people become more prolific and non-prolific become relatively worse off.

Consider a simple example from the previous generation: ad platforms.

Compare Copywriter A (mediocre) and Copywriter B (skilled). The skilled copywriter can draw huge performance gain compared to the mediocre one, as he or she can manage more accounts more easily and get a higher CTR: with millions of impressions, even a small delta (=difference) between the copywriters quickly amplifies to a major gap. (This is Steve Job’s analogy of rockets if I recall right: a tiny, fractional angle difference when launching will lead two rockets to completely different worlds as they travel millions of miles in space.)

It’s the same with GenAI. Poor writers will just use soulless text as is, gaining not advantage but disadvantage. Their writing neither improves through practice nor do they gain any results with AI-generated text because it’s not better than the soulless text of other mediocre writers. The best writers gain a lot, though. Because they know what good text (and thinking) is like, they can quickly manipulate the “ideas” (or idea lookalikes) that the AI outputs, make them their own, and develop them further. Whereas, the poor writers don’t know what good writing is, so they cannot improve or edit the AI-generated content accordingly.

It’s a run to the top and run to the bottom at the same time: another manifestation of digital divide.