Issue #41
#41 - The Robots Are C̶o̶m̶i̶n̶g̶ Here 🤖
October 28, 2022

What's up, everybody?

If you've followed this newsletter, you'll know that the phrase "the Future of Work" is a pet peeve of ours. Why call it "the future" if that future is already here? So much more present and impactful than it gets credit for. Even the changes that are still to come, we believe will arrive with a speed and ferocity we haven’t seen before, and can’t fully appreciate.

There is no better example of this reality than the focus of this week’s stories: artificial intelligence.

We use our 3 nuggets -- which, as usual, trend optimistic as we go from 1 to 3 -- to look at:

  • A new AI writing tool that created some buzz online. Will it mean your faithful curators are soon AI’d into obsolescence? 🤔
  • A simple, useful framework for understanding what AI might mean for the evolution of how we work.
  • A take -- from an AI expert -- on what becomes a superpower in the event AI is one day as prevalent as we think it will be. (Hint: it fits in well with our human-centered approach to work ;)

We hope you find it all insightful.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

Aki + Usman


#AI #Creativity #TheNowOfWork

Nat Eliason is an online writer who refers here to a product we now know is called “Lex”. We feature Nat’s Tweet as a baseline: it reeks of the usual, “Oh my goodness, the robots are coming for our jobs!”, language that has been around for decades.

We also feature it, though, as an example of just how “close” and practical some applications of AI are becoming. To wit, the tool was built by two writers -- in the span of about a month (!), and Nat’s take, above, was far from unique.

Last, we include this Tweet because it segues well into the next story, #2 below. 👇🏻

(Here’s a link to the Lex homepage, if you want to join the waitlist to try it out. Better yet, this is a 4-minute YouTube demo of the tool).


#AI #NarratorEconomy #PlaysWellWithOthersMachines

This 👆🏻is the opening to a longer quote -- from entrepreneur-investor David Friedberg -- which we’ve pasted in it’s entirety, below.

It’s the longest quote we’ve ever featured, but we’re giving it the real estate because the framework it offers for understanding how we might work with AI is simple and practical. And because it does a wonderful job of placing that work in historical context.

In Friedberg’s take on AI, our role evolves from being creative knowledge-workers to becoming “narrators”. This requires the ability to narrate our visions to the machines. But it also enables tremendous output, creativity and savings of time and effort.

If you’d rather listen to the quote, here’s the video clip (just a minute and a half long). And if you dig that, here’s another clip on AI; also from Friedberg. Super insightful, and well worth the time. ✌🏻

The full quote [emphasis added]:

“Humans transitioned from being passive in the system on Earth to being laborers. Then we transitioned from being laborers to being creators. Our next transition with Al is to transition from being creators to being narrators.

As we started to do work on earth and engineer the world around us, we did labor to do that. We literally plowed the fields, we walked distances, we built things. And over time, we built machines that automated a lot of that labor, everything from a plow to a tractor to Caterpillar equipment to a microwave that cooks for us. We became less dependent on our labor abilities.

Then we got to switch our time and spend our time as creators, as knowledge workers. A vast majority of the developed world now primarily spends their time as knowledge workers creating. We create stuff on computers, but we're not doing physical labor anymore.

As a lot of the knowledge work gets supplanted by Al, but really gets supplanted by software. The role of the human transitions to being one of a narrator, where instead of having to create the blueprint for a house, you narrate the house you want, and the software creates the blueprint for you. Instead of creating the movie and spending $100 million producing a movie, you dictate or you narrate the movie you want to see, and you iterate with the computer, and the computer renders the entire film for you, because those films are shown digitally anyway, so you can have a computer render it. Instead of creating a new piece of content, you narrate the content you want to experience. You create your own video game. You create your own movie experience."


#AI #Humanity #Optimism

Friederberg’s vision, in #2, is pretty bullish. But as we said out the outset, we’re saving our most optimistic take for last: it’s kind of how we like to trend around here. 😎

The author of this Tweet isn’t a casual observer by the way: Peter Welinder has worked for OpenAI -- an AI research and product company -- for 6 years, and now serves as a VP of the company.

We’re as layperson as it gets here, but his take makes intuitive sense to us: as the amount of work we can accomplish with AI goes through the roof, and as the cost of accomplishing it falls, then it stands to reason that we -- and our "human touch", our ability to collaborate, and our ability to empathize -- become more valuable.

Will it play out that way? Who's to say. For now, it’s a vision we want to get behind. 🙌🏻

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏻

Work moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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