Broker Check

The Temptation of "The Button"

June 08, 2023

A thought provoking blog by Ethan Mollick on the One Useful Thing website ( describes a use of artificial intelligence which can boost productivity while causing a "crisis of meaning".

Mollick calls this technology "The Button" because Google now has a button that says "Help me write". If you push the button you get the draft of any document you request. This technology is already in use on other platforms and will soon be added to Microsoft Office.

Since it's easier to start with something than nothing, Mollick expects everyone to use it. This may lead to less care and lower quality writing. People may push "The Button" instead of spending time on a project. As an example, Mollick (a professor) produced a credible letter of recommendation for a fictional student.

The great majority of people think their jobs are socially useful. Using AI can increase job satisfaction if we use it to outsource menial tasks and concentrate on what is important. However, AI will make many previously useful tasks meaningless - AI communicating with AI.

If this blog had a button, I probably could call up a post on the prospects and perils of AI that would read as if I wrote it. (Full disclosure: I wrote this blog by myself.) Passing off a computer generated blog as my work is a line I will not cross. We must all draw our own lines between routine work which can be done by AI and using our own creativity.