Robert Solow The 1987 Nobel Prize winner in economics said that the computer revolution can be seen everywhere except in productivity statistics. I predict that 2023 is the year that will finally change thanks to artificial intelligence. By the end of 2023, AI will quickly become one of the most important factors of production in the global economy.
It is true that the history of AI is largely a history of disappointment, with the hype giving way to an “AI winter” when both talent and funding abandon the discipline. But this time, thanks to the deep learning revolution, things are really different.
In 2023, we will see ordinary people everywhere have the power of AI at their fingertips. How might it look? Let’s say you need to create a marketing brochure for a new geography that includes your company. Trained on a data set of every piece of content your firm has ever created, your AI assistant creates three variations for you in minutes, each beautifully written and illustrated. They’re not perfect yet, but what used to be a week-long project becomes work in a couple of hours.
This is just an example, but the critical point is that AI is about to endow all of us with superpowers. You’ll be able to create an email or note in your own voice (or someone else’s, for that matter) in seconds. You can create photorealistic art – or even video – with just a few steps of instructions. You will be able to answer arbitrary scientific questions, forcing the AI to “read” entire corpuses of academic literature. You will be able to delegate your bookkeeping and invoices to the AI algorithm.
Some of these innovations will come from the usual suspects like DeepMind and OpenAI. OpenAI has already released beta versions of GPT-3 (a program that generates natural language) and DALL-E (which creates images from text), but we can expect these tools to become widely available soon. Surprisingly, however, there is also a new generation of startups that demonstrate that you don’t need a billion dollar budget to get to the cutting edge of AI technology. Take middle of the road or AI stabilityapplications that produce results that are not inferior to DALL-E, or causal (disclosure: I am an investor), which allows scientists to find new causal relationships in the life sciences with natural language questions. In addition, there is a growing list of new AI startups with impressive backers and more general ambitions such as anthropic (an AI security and research firm), Hypothesis (which aims to keep the AI out of destructive factors such as racial prejudice), and Keene Technologieswhich was founded by computer science legend John Carmack.
This is not a prediction about artificial general intelligence, even less about artificial intelligence “replacing” humans. However, it is hard to overestimate the impact of freeing up billions of hours of human labor and making creativity and knowledge cheaper. I fully expect this to spark a huge wave of entrepreneurship. In the same way that the advent of the Internet has given every startup an extremely scalable distribution engine, the era of AI superpowers will give every startup an extremely scalable production engine. Technical Analyst Benedict Evans said in 2018 one way to think about AI is like giving each company an infinite number of interns. In 2023, these interns will be world-class copywriters, illustrators, and other professionals — perhaps scientists, data analysts, or even negotiators.
What would you build with a million of these “interns” in the cloud, available on demand, 24/7, at almost zero marginal cost? In 2023, we can expect to be shown by thousands of entrepreneurs.