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Mark Cuban, the famous American businessman, said this in 2017 – ““Artificial Intelligence, deep learning, machine learning — whatever you’re doing if you don’t understand it — learn it. Because otherwise you’re going to be a dinosaur within 3 years.”
Cuban is back with another prediction. The highest paying college major in the world, computer science, will hold very little value for employers in the future. Why? Because of AI. “Twenty years from now, if you are a coder, you might be out of a job,” Cuban said in an interview on the Recode Decode podcast with Kara Swisher. “Because it’s just math, and so, whatever we’re defining the AI to do, someone’s got to know the topic.”
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There is no doubt that what he predicted back in 2017 is increasingly coming true. The increasing capabilities of AI are definitely making a lot of jobs obsolete, not just the ones that require coding.
On Monday, in an interesting turn of events, Hollywood’s film and several TV writers from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) commenced a protest with the disagreement over AI getting involved for writing scripts, essentially to limit the use of AI in writing scripts. Interesting to see how the writers who have been writing about “machines taking over the world” all these years, are the ones who are getting affected now. We don’t know who planted the idea first.
In support of the writers, it is true that models like ChatGPT or Bard are essentially trained on the scripts written by them, that is why they are able to generate the same output. The WGA’s lead negotiator, Ellen Stutzman, also highlighted during the protests that some of their members refer to AI as “plagiarism machines.” The struggle between proper attribution and copyright about generative AI technology is ongoing, and needs resolution soon.
Comedy writer Adam Conover told TechCrunch, “Our proposal is that we not be required to adapt something that’s output by AI, and that the output of an AI not be considered writers’ work.”
“If you’re using AI to emulate Shakespeare, somebody better knows Shakespeare,” said Cuban in the same interview, which definitely makes sense in this context. He further adds that people from coding majors who are graduating right now might have better short-term opportunities than someone who is an expert at Shakespeare.
Training Humans Like AI
But on the flip side, people on twitter argue that the need for computer science degrees will increase as the need to understand these systems would increase. Though there might be not enough need for plain technical jobs that the AI can perform through several tools, understanding the design behind the AI systems still would continue.
A little contrary to Cuban’s point, Yann LeCun, the chief of AI at Meta, tweeted about how every economist in the world says that any general purpose technology takes at least 15-2o years to have an effect on productivity. The delay is determined by how fast people learn and adapt to it. “So no, AI is not going to cause instant mass unemployment.” LeCun concluded. “It is only going to displace jobs over time and make people more productive,” just like any other technological revolution.
This is similar to Sam Altman’s idea of “AI Humans”. In the podcast with Lex Fridman, the founder of OpenAI and ChatGPT said he wants to “make humans super great.” That happens when we move over the phase of denial, and come to acceptance, and eventually adoption of the technology. Essentially, making AI our teammates.
On similar lines, Richard Baldwin, at a panel at 2023 World Economic Forum’s Growth Summit said, “AI won’t take your job, It’s somebody using AI that will take your job.”
It might be too early to tell. But the fact that humans need to be trained just like AI models to be unbiased, more capable, and be proficient in them is the need of the hour. Maybe LeCun’s prediction is true, but the 15-20 years margin looks like a long time.
There is no doubt that the current AI technologies are creating a disruption in the market. Be it businesses, enterprises, or even the employees within the companies, everyone is increasingly scared about the rapid AI developments – just look at the layoffs.
Most recently, Geoffery Hinton, the godfather of AI also made an exit from Google and expressed his views about the risk of AI. In an interview with Times, talking about the risks of AI, Hinton also expressed concerns about how AI has the potential to eliminate jobs. While on the flip side, Satya Nadella said that AI has the possibility to create more jobs.
Adding to all this, companies are replacing people for the jobs that AI can do. IBM recently announced that it will stop hiring for 7,800 roles that can be replaced by AI. There is clearly a visible interruption that these new AI models are creating throughout the world. Who knows what the future holds for jobs – will AI add more jobs or replace them? For now, the layoffs are on.
Currently, the case in every field and sector is just like the layoffs in the big-tech, and now the roles of writers in Hollywood are at stake. Maybe instead of putting away AI altogether, writers should adopt the idea of AI into their workings. Probably, we will see better scripted movies in the future.