OpenAI’s Adam Goldberg argued at Inman Connect New York that the most important skill for using AI effectively is “clarity of thought.”

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Artificial intelligence has made massive waves since 2022, when new versions such as ChatGPT became widely available, but the key to using it effectively today is learning how to give it the right instructions.

“The best way to describe the technology as it exists today is like having a mid level intern for the summer,” Adam Goldberg said at last week’s Inman Connect New York.

Goldberg is a founding member of the go-to-market team at OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. His point with the analogy was that an intern will probably be very effective if given the right tools, contacts, instructions and data. But if a company leader doesn’t provide an intern with the right tools, that intern is “probably going to do a crappy job and spend the summer playing on the internet.”

“It’s the same type of thing,” he said to the crowded Connect ballroom, referring to artificial intelligence.

During his session, Goldberg offered examples of industries that have gravitated toward AI, noting that real estate professionals were among the first groups to use the technology en masse. But he said the real key to figuring out how to harness AI’s power is for people to know what they want and how to ask for it in a clear and effective way.

“The superpower in getting the most out of these models,” Goldberg said, “is clarity of thought.”

Goldberg also told the crowd that AI is especially good at the “undifferentiated heavy lifting,” which he defined as the tasks that “underpin” what makes a person successful.

“If you can outsource that kind of commodity stuff to an AI system and really focus on the higher value stuff,” Goldberg said, “then things really start to take off.”

From left to right, moderator Clelia Peters, Michael Martin and Adam Goldberg. Credit: AJ Canaria Creative Services

Michael Martin, co-founder and co-CEO of tech-forward brokerage Avenue 8, appeared on stage with Goldberg. He argued that when it comes to AI, 2023 is “probably going to be the year everybody remembers.”

“What AI can do for real estate is compress that time span,” he continued, adding that the best way for agents to take advantage of that compression is to use an artificial intelligence assistant.

But despite the hype, Martin urged Connect attendees to remember that being able to do rapid data analysis or marketing is great but not, ultimately, what makes a real human successful — or even human in the first place. His point appeared to be similar to Goldberg’s comment about the intern; AI can be useful, but it needs a human in charge.

“To be human is to dream,” Martin said, “and it’s still really important to dream.”

At another point during the session, Goldberg said that the pace of change is likely to accelerate going forward. Among other things, he argued that companies will rethink the way they build their software so that it’s “AI native,” and that the technology will become so enmeshed in daily life that its impact will dwarf even the rise of the smartphone.

“Imagine not having a smartphone today,” Goldberg said, adding a moment later that, eventually, people will think similarly about not understanding AI.

Over time, Goldberg said, artificial intelligence will only get stronger — meaning real estate professionals need to start experimenting with it now.

“If you thought the last year was crazy,” he concluded, “buckle up.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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