Artificial Intelligence Is Here

AI is here and it’s being implemented faster than most people think. I’m not talking about human level AI, AGI, but super early stage AI that’s already helping make things more efficient. Although it’s early, AI implementation is moving faster and will affect new industries faster than most people suspect.

These AI improvements are made possible by companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft opening sourcing their APIs in the past few months. Companies like Amazon and IBM will likely follow suit and launch AI APIs. It’s now possible for anyone who knows how to code to implement AI into their apps. This wasn’t possible 6 months ago. Now it is. And it’s open or cheap.

Creative destruction from other technological advances has always happened, but AI is accelerating the reduction in the half life of jobs even faster. Before, jobs and skilled lasted a generation or even a lifetime. An attorney could train her replacement during her legal career. Now it’s 10 years. And for sure getting lower.

Creative destruction isn’t new. But the pace of change is. And its only accelerating. Not many people can keep up. As David Simon, the creator of The Wire, put it:

The Wire’ was not a story about America; it’s about the America that got left behind. … These really are the excess people in America. Our economy doesn’t need them — we don’t need 10% or 15% of our population.”

Simon was talking about manufacturing and other blue collar jobs. But we’ve now left behind at least ~50% of the population. The real number is closer to ~70%. If you’re not currently in top 30% of intelligence, birthplace, motivation, luck, right place at right time, you’re likely having trouble today. It could easily be 10% for today’s teenagers. Or maybe even less.

We’re not just talking manufacturing. We’re talking professionals. It’s already starting with X-ray techs and radiologists, eye exams, bankers, and low level legal matters. A bot has gotten people out of 160,000 parking tickets in its first 6 months of operation! You might think, “it’s just parking tickets,” but most legal matters have simple rules and can be programmed. Salesforce has invested $1b+ in putting AI into sales. And if they can be programmed, they will be programmed.

We’re talking full scale disruption of doctors and lawyers. Accountants. Sales people. Real estate agents. Pharmacists. Engineers. Pretty much any professional job that you can reduce to 1s and 0s that doesn’t require significant creativity. These jobs won’t disappear completely in the next 15 years, but they’ll get reduced massively. The best people will still be able to do these jobs and will review complex matters or become more efficient.

It’s already starting. I believe we’ll see significant shocks in the next 3-5 years as AI tech enabled job loss accelerates. Our political choices, especially in the US, will accelerate this change and make things worse for normal people trying to cope with rapid change.

Photo credit: Niko