Welcome to the Hockey Stick
OpenAI is hiring hundreds of junior developers to train the company’s software on how to code software. Once artificial intelligence platforms learn how to code, it could make millions of junior developers obsolete. More importantly, by learning how to code, AI is essentially learning how to build itself, in a feedback loop that promises exponential growth.
You might know this exponential growth by its Canucky name: the hockey stick curve.
Learning to code is only the latest way artificial intelligence (AI) is turning our world upside down. It’s already overturning whole industries, from stock photography to music composition, copywriting and a host of other functions we once told ourselves machines could never do.
Now the machines are doing them. They’re increasingly doing them as well or better than we can. The list of industries once considered immune to automation is shrinking day by day, and the pace of adoption is accelerating. Within a few months, generative artificial intelligence has progressed from happy-fun-time distraction to wholesale industry disruptor.
The speed at which this change is happening isn’t its most salient feature. If generative AI simply maintained its current speed of disruption, humans would be hard-pressed to cope.
Spoiler alert: it’s not maintaining its current speed; it’s accelerating. As it feeds back into itself, the acceleration accelerates. You get the picture.
That acceleration underlies some fairly amazing / terrifying concepts, such as the singularity, the idea that as the rate of change passes a tipping point, and the graph goes almost straight up, our world will change faster than at any other point in earth’s history, in ways we can’t imagine.
Ray Kurzweil predicted this would happen by 2045. Given the current rate of growth in the raw cognitive capacity of AI, that may be an underestimate.
Take software engineering as an example. It was long considered an untouchably complicated task, which required tremendous brainpower. The fact that it’s now being cracked by AI should put other industries on notice, from translation to writing to acting.
Millions of people losing their livelihood will become the most difficult challenge humans face in the 21st century, after global warming.
So what do we do?
Accepting change is still a better idea than raging against the dying of the light.
We’re at the start of the hockey stick curve. Here’s why we should be open to embracing the disruption: AI is going cause tremendous societal pain, but it’s going to save so many more people than it throws out of work, that the pain will be worth it.
Tune in next week to find out why.