Last week, Usman and I discussed newsletter #71, "The Great Thinning Out Of The Traditional Firm". At the end of the podcast we came to the final Story, about the impact tech and AI would have on work. It was an optimistic take from a thoughtful leader: technology would enable an explosion of small firm entrepreneurship and high-quality, niche products and services for the world to consume.
We shared how excited we'd be if we were part of an evolution like that. But I also expressed that as excited as I was about the changes to come, I was a bit scared of them, too: daunted by the speed, the disruption, the unknown, and the uncertainty.
This week, we share a bull and a bear case for where AI could take us all. But the goal is not to "debate AI", much less make a prediction, come to a conclusion, or persuade anyone that AI will save us, or rise up against us. 🤖
Instead, in the spirit of learning, we curate two takes from extreme sides of the conversation. And we explore the value of trying to "hold both ideas" in our heads at the same time:
Thank you for reading and exploring with us -- and have a great week!
Aki + Usman
P.S. Usman and I recorded our podcast episode of issue #70, "Human Needs Are Also Work Needs", too. It's right here.
#AI #Optimistic #BullCase
Marc Andreessen built the first web browser, and is one of the most influential people in tech. His operating chops, his investments as a venture capitalist, and to be honest, the depth and range of his intellect, make what he has to say at least worth paying attention to.
Earlier this month, he wrote "AI Will Save The World", decrying the "full-blown moral panic" he sees unfolding around AI. He lays out a case for how and why AI will, actually, prove a powerful, positive, transformational force, and offers up a slew of inspiring examples. He also addresses the arguments wielded against the technology and suggests that the true risk is not AI, but slowing down its development.
The piece is well worth reading because it's important to understand the "techno-optimist" arguments and use cases -- many of which will inspire you. But it's also useful because so much of what we're hearing right now does seem to fall more into the AI-will-bring-disaster camp. To wit, we use our next Story to balance out Marc's take and explore a much more pessimistic one. ⬇️
#AI #Pessimistic #BearCase #Activism
Erik Hoel is a neuroscientist and a writer, and not only does he view AI as a threat, he also deems it a threat to humanity itself, right alongside nuclear weapons and climate change.
We should caveat that Erik is referring specifically to "artificial general intelligence", or AGI, which has not been achieved, and which is not the same thing as the more narrow forms of generative AI that we're using and reading about. But for Erik, AGI is "here" already, we're just seeing it in embryonic form.
He poses some sobering questions and scenarios, many of which have been expressed, formally, by scientists and industry leaders working on the technology. But he also extends his analogy of AI to nuclear weapons and climate change by urging us to apply the same kind of activism to AI as we have those two threats.
#Uncertainty #Paradox #Control #Learning
Part of why we've presented two such contrasting visions of the future, and highlighted the gulf between them, was to expose the uncertainty that lies at the heart of this conversation.
As humans, we crave predictability and control; knowing what's going to happen. AI and its impacts are many things, but predictable is not one of them. There's simply no way to know, or plan. And when we combine this level of not knowing with the speed of change, and the stakes involved -- the uncertainty can feel off-the-charts. 📈
But we think it's ok -- even important -- to acknowledge this uncertainty. We think it's important to articulate that it's creating angst and fear. And, at the same time, we also think it's possible and OK to feel and express excitement and optimism for what's to come. Indeed, he two feelings are not mutually exclusive.
And this brings us to the quote of our final Story, from author Tony Schwartz 👆, who urges us to "Let go of uncertainty." Not to "embrace uncertainty", per se, which feels unrealistic. But to embrace, rather, the paradox -- and to approach it with openness and curiosity. To focus on ourselves, on our awareness, and on continuing to grow and learn.
Which is easier said than done, by the way! But it also feels like a wiser approach than fixating on something so thoroughly beyond our control.
Thanks for reading. 🙏🏻